Apple is a PR genius. What are you doing if you don’t want something to attract great attention? You mix it with other announcements and that’s why apple dropped the bombshell included in the new Terms of Service together with the introduction of all the new shiny new features of iPhone OS4. However John Gruber discovered the new TOS and – thanks to the openeness of the internet – made it public and a lot of developers using Unity3D or MonoTouch around the world very unhappy. Here is the bombshell:
It basically says: if you want to use our ecosystem/AppStore, you are only allowed to use our tools to create your apps. Since Apple already controlls which apps are allowed to run on your device through the AppStore approval process they are able to enforce this rule. This is unpreceded in the history of of computing – maybe even worse than Microsoft in its darkest hours. Think about it for a minute: what would happen if Microsoft would tell everybody that only programs created with their own language .Net and by using Visual Studio would be allowed to run on your Windows PC? You wouldn’t be allowed to use almost all of your games and half of your applications anymore. You can’t even imagine that this would happen … not in an era where Microsoft is forced to ask users which browser to use when installing windows.
Apples plans looks even worse, when you try to imagine what would have happened if Microsoft would have done the same AppStore + OnlyOurTools approach 10-15 years ago. Netscape to access internet? Does not get approved because it would be possible to watch porn. New programming languages/DBs/tools such as java, ruby on rails, php, mysql and countless others – not approved. We wouldn’t actually even have the current Microsoft tools and languages (visual studio 2010 +.net/c#) because they are essentially microsofts answer to those new languages such as java and others. To sum it up: we would still live in the digital stone age without proper Internet and simple and crashing apps because all those great tools which allow todays complex programs would not have been created. Would you like that?
Apple says they need to enforce the new TOS to foster innovation for the good of the customers. However history clearly teels us that the opposite will be the case. Monopolistic markets who “lock in” the market members instead of constantly persuading them that they are the best will ultimately be much less innovative … Even if you are Apple.
You may also think that this is not too bad because it happens only on the mobile platforms and not on the really important PC. Think again: mobile platforms are the new pcs. In a few years time we probably all be having our tablets and an some type of smartphone – and no more stationary pc or even a laptop (btw: I am writing this on an iPad
You may also argue: it is their product, they can do whatever they want with it. If you don’t like it, just leave the party. This argument would be true, if we were talking about a product. However we are talking about an ecosystem and not only a product. Apple has created a market and in a market the customers should decide which products are worth buying and not some kind of overlord or “benevolent dictator”. If they only wanted to protect their customers, they could just label the “not apple only” products so the customers know he is now trying to play an unsupported game (similar to what Microsoft does when you try to install an unsigned driver). If they dont like bad “flash-like” apps than just dont allow them in the AppStore – you already have a term in your TOS that you can deny apps for all the reasons you want. There is no need to kick out all third party tools which are required to do great apps – especially good games!
Apple and Steve Jobs personally deserve great credit for the introduction of the iPhone, iPad, macbooks and their software and usability. I love their products so much that I – being a pc since my 10th birthday – threw away all my pcs and bought a macbook pro, iPhone, iPad, Mac mini for the tv and a lot of accessoires for these devices. I also persuaded dozends of people to do the same. I even founded a company to work on iPhone apps. I am probably what you call an Apple fanboy.
Being an Apple fanboy it hurts to see that apple repeats microsofts mistakes (and more so) in an era when everybody talks about data portability, openess and competing only with the end user in mind (and not by hindering the competition). In short: the “don’t be evil” mantra by google.
Apple we love you – please don’t cheat on us. Please dont be evil.
Here are some good links: