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Apple's Controversial iPhone Developer Agreement PublishedApple's Controversial iPhone Developer Agreement Published

The restrictive terms of the old iPhone SDK Agreement effectively prevented iPhone developers from discussing their coding work with anyone other than project team members.

Thomas Claburn

October 28, 2008

2 Min Read

The controversial iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) Agreement that Apple last week discontinued has been posted to Wikileaks, where it is available for download.

The iPhone SDK Agreement states that it is for internal use only and not for redistribution. The summary information that accompanies the iPhone SDK file states that the agreement has never before been publicly released. "This file is important because Apple is being extremely secretive about the iPhone developer program," the Wikileaks summary page says. "The agreement contains several controversial terms and claims that need to be discussed in an open forum. This is however explicitly forbidden by the agreement." The SDK Agreement was posted to Wikileaks on October 24th, the day that Apple issued a new iPhone developer agreement. Earlier in that week, the T-Mobile G1 mobile phone was released. The G1, built atop Google's Android mobile platform, is widely seen as an iPhone competitor. Apple did not respond to several requests for comment. The restrictive terms of the old iPhone SDK Agreement effectively prevented iPhone developers from discussing their coding work with anyone other than project team members. Many iPhone developers complained about Apple's restrictions. Some reportedly took to paying friends a token sum so they could be legally classified as project contractors and thereby discuss iPhone development with them. WordPress went so far as to release the source code for its iPhone blog-posting application, a violation of the SDK Agreement. Apple, however, has not pursued any legal action. Apple's SDK Agreement also prohibited developers from talking about its restrictions. "You may not issue any press releases or make any other public statements regarding this Agreement, its terms and conditions, or the relationship of the parties without Apple's express prior written approval, which may be withheld at Apple's discretion," the posted SDK says. In announcing its plan to release a new iPhone developer agreement, Apple acknowledged that its non-disclosure terms created too much of a burden for developers and relaxed them for released iPhone software. The new agreement continues to regard as confidential: Apple pre-release software, related documentation, information presented at Apple Events, and paid developer content.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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