A Day When Apple Takes the Heat

Lora Bentley

Remember Google's bad day last month? Whatever caused the multitude of bad press must be catching, because now it's Apple's turn.


In the midst of significant scrutiny because of its recently filed patent-infringement lawsuit against HTC, the Cupertino, Calif., company is also getting grief from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about its iPhone Developer Program license agreement, and former Sun Microsystem CEO Jonathan Schwartz is empathizing with Google in a recent blog post, noting Apple threatened Sun with lawsuits, too.


As for the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. PC Magazine's Brian Heater points out, just a few aspects of the agreement that trouble the EFF:

  • It prohibits those who sign it from making public statements about what it contains.
  • It prohibits those who participate in the developer program from distributing apps they create for the iPhone via any other app store or exchange.
  • It prohibits participants from "tinkering" with any other Apple software or device besides the iPhone.
  • It allows Apple to revoke an application's digital certificate at any time.


The EFF was a little more direct in its own statement about the agreement. The title says it all: All Your Apps Belong to Apple.


Then, of course, there's Schwartz's post, in which he details conversations with Apple CEO Steve Jobs regarding the intellectual property behind the graphical effects in Sun's (eventually abandoned) Looking Glass. Schwartz notes that "bluster and threats" are common in business, but concludes:

[F]or a technology company, going on offense with software patents seems like an act of desperation, relying on the courts instead of the marketplace....[S]uing a competitor typically makes them more relevant, not less. Developers I know aren't getting less interested in Google's Android platform, they're getting more interested.

He has a point.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 10, 2010 3:01 PM Lee Lee  says:

The "heat"?  Do you think Apple cares about the EFF?  Lets face it, the Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad developer program is $99 and allows you to sell a application for mobile devices.  There are no hosting fees and you set the price with a 70/30 split.  No developers are complaining, only the anti-Apple people are.

Revocation of your app certificate means you sneak in malicious code into a app, they can disable it.  They are protecting themselves and the public from an application sending your contact list to a hacker somewhere or even preventing an Easter Egg from showing Porn if you shake the device a certain way.

And lets be clear, it's a licensed product and hardware, just like the Xbox.  They have a responsibility to insure that your experience is 100% enjoyable.

Mar 11, 2010 10:29 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says: in response to Lee

Some would debate that it is their responsibility.

Mar 11, 2010 8:43 PM Bert Josseph Bert Josseph  says: in response to Anonymous

I do believe that some aspects of 'police-ing' by Apple are beneficial. If they are going to pull an app because the author has embedded malicious code, then I am all for that. Unfortunately "police-ing' has both a good and bad side, and I am yet to find anyone who can institute a happy medium that makes everyone happy.

Mar 11, 2010 8:47 PM Tom McIntosh Tom McIntosh  says:

Schwartz ran his company into the ground and Oracle got it at fire sale prices.  He did not have enough of a case to fight Apple's threat.

If the EFF does not like Apple licensing agreement, then go to one of the thousands of others that claim to have a better solution.  Apple does not force people to come and buy their product - they just develop a more attractive product.

Another tough day for column space.

Mar 18, 2010 9:00 AM J Scott Prusko J Scott Prusko  says:

Jobs, like Gates and Microsoft, is trying to force out competition like HTC (Google) rather than actually beat the competition...while Apple is still winning mind you.  It is the first step of litigation replacing innovation...especially after the lack of innovation on display with the iPad.  HTC / Google should redo the Apple 1984 commercial and put Jobs on the big screen now.

As far as the app store, if developers do not like the rules, go to another platform.

Jobs should worry more about the travesty that is iPhones on only the AT&T network.  Focusing on getting the iPhone on more networks would be more customer focused that trying to stifle competition with something other than continued superior products.

Mar 19, 2010 12:33 PM Ron Ron  says:

Mr. Schwartz uses the phrase to criticize Jobs & Apple:

" ...relying on the courts instead of the marketplace...'

With all due respect to Mr. Schwartz, the marketplace affirmed Mr. Jobs judgement by making Apple the #4 company in the USA (according to current capitalization, stock price, etc.) and has given the opposite verdict to Mr. Schwartz's Sun, which ultimately failed in the marketplace, was consequently consumed, and is currently being digested by Oracle.

If Mr. Schwartz proposes to judge Mr. Jobs by 'marketplace' performance, then I suppose Mr. Jobs thanks him for the compliment.


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