Apple lets iPhone developers talk about the iPhone

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IPhone developers and publishers of iPhone-related books cheered today after Apple said it would lift the software nondisclosure agreement that had prevented them from discussing the process of creating programs for the device.

Dave Thomas, a co-founder of Pragmatic Programmers, a publisher and consulting firm, had held back the publication of iPhone books and other products because of the NDA. He celebrated on his blog today: ‘A great huzzah! was heard through the land.’

It’s common for companies to make developers agree to NDAs before a product is launched. But, as we reported in August, Apple had frustrated iPhone developers who had downloaded the free developer’s kit by not waiving that NDA once the iPhone 2.0 software update was released July 11. That meant no iPhone software chitchat in online forums or iPhone problem-solving sessions in the hallways at conferences.

The NDA made life increasingly difficult for iPhone conference planners, who had to limit topics of discussion, and publishers, who had to delay their iPhone books. Some developers paid each other a dollar so they could say they were subcontractors and therefore permitted to discuss iPhone software.


Apple acknowledged the developer community’s frustrations today, saying in a blog post that it had decided to drop the iPhone nondisclosure agreement for already released software after receiving ‘constructive feedback.’ The post said:

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others. However, 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. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

The move should help improve the company’s relationship with iPhone developers, some of whom have had their iPhone programs rejected, said Ars Technica. And the public should prepare for a wave of iPhone books and conferences.

-- Michelle Quinn

IPhone photo by Jason DeCrow / Associated Press