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Apr 11, 2010

Steve Jobs goes Crazy and the Net Freaks Out!

While many people were watching the return of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson's awesome win at the Masters, the Internets were freaking out about Apple's new license agreement for iPhone development.

The story was originally broken by Daring Fireball here. And has been commented on and expanded at the following sites. All three posts are awesome and I recommend you read each.
Adobe has been developing a tool to allow Flash developers to compile Flash applications for the iPhone OS.  Thus, Flash developers could completely bypass Apple tools or compilers to create their apps. By changing the license agreement, Apple has made this Adobe tool illegal on the iPhone platform. It also limits development to Objective C, C, C++, and HTML/Javascript on Webkit. So any cross platform compiler written in Ruby, or .Net would also be illegal. So as you might imagine, this has angered developers who were planning to use these 3rd party tools.

In my mind Apple has a point. They are trying to provide a simple, stable device with consistent interfaces. Nontechie's do not care if the platform is open or closed. Regular folks don't care about multitasking. They just want their phone to work all the time. PCs crash, phones don't. By tightly controlling design and development, Apple can meet their stability and design goals.

Google Android provides the open alternative to Apple's approach. Right now it is messier and probably not as good. But it is open, and that allows developers to iterate and improve. Over time, it seems possible that it will match or surpass its closed adversary.

Developers, customers, and the market will determine which approach is best. It is going to be an interesting fight.

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