Apple Drops Developer NDA For Released iPhone Software

The original agreement angered developers because it prevented discussion of applications rejected by Apple's App Store.
Apple on Wednesday said a controversial nondisclosure agreement for iPhone developers would no longer cover released software, saying the restrictions were too much of a burden on the application makers.

The original NDA angered third-party developers because it prevented them from discussing their own software after it was rejected by Apple for inclusion in the App Store, an Apple-launched online store for selling software for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In dropping the restrictions, Apple said in a statement on its Developer Connection Web site that "the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors, and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software." Apple plans to send a revised agreement to developers within a week.

Apple, however, was quick to point out that the new NDA would still cover unreleased software and features for the iPhone. The purpose of the NDA is to add one more layer of protection for the iPhone operating system, which includes many Apple inventions and innovations, "so others don't steal our work," the company said. Apple already has hundreds of patents on iPhone technology.

In rejecting iPhone software for the App Store, Apple had been sending out letters warning developers that the reasons cited in the missive for the rejection were under the NDA. The warning sparked allegations that Apple was trying to clamp down on discussions about the rejections.

The App Store is where iPhone and iPod Touch users can go to choose from thousands of applications from third-party developers. The software must be approved by Apple before it's offered. As a gatekeeper, Apple has been criticized for being inconsistent in its rationale for rejecting applications. In some cases, applications that have been approved are later pulled.

Apple's approach to the App Store differs greatly from the soon-to-launched Android Market for mobile phones built with the Google-led Android open source operating system. The expected no-approval process, however, has raised concerns about whether the most useful applications will get in front of visitors and whether malware and spam can be filtered out.