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Apple lay out their ISV programme for the iPhone.

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Just pony up a C note, say Apple. Then bind yourself contractually to give us a 30% cut on your revenues. And if we really like your stuff we'll publish it. And of course if we don't you're SOL.

That's the gist of the 'open' iPhone to hit OS X developers in June. For those still running on Windows there's no hope. Although Apple for years promised their OS X would run on Windows it was just an innocent promenade down the garden path.

Some indies are optimistic even though they think 30% is a bit steep but the real issue isn't the cut - the real issue is how you get the stuff out there.

Ordinarily indie software is available in as many channels as you like; Apple want to completely control the distribution of independent software for their iPhone.

There are many reasons for this. The primary reason may be perceived to be the lack of security on the device. Working from an architecture that in many ways reverts from the wobbly OS X to the superior NeXTSTEP the engineers then turned around and in terms of security put things on a plane with Windows. Everything in the box ran as root; any compromised module could overtake the entire machine. In fact the jail breakers out there counted on it. And instead of just admitting it probably wasn't a great idea to run things the Redmond Way they introduced code signing instead.

Code signing isn't a bad idea but if it's your only defence it's a bit anaemic. What's worse: Leopard - the mainstream OS X - uses code signing too.

It's always been the freely proliferating independent software that's made or broken platforms. The IBM PC succeeded because it was open; Windows succeeds for the same reason; even the deliberately miniscule Apple OS X market has had freedom; but start to control who gets to put what on a box and you trip over your own feet.


Apple are notorious in the computer industry for their 'censoring': they run discussion boards with 'nanny patrols'; these nanny patrols have come under wide criticism by the media; Apple made a big thing out of sacking all their nannies; but guess what? The nannies never went away. The hypocrisy coupled with the lying undermined Apple's credibility. Now the same people who want to kill reports of crappy software and failing hardware are going to control what programs run?

So much for freedom. And it's not just the iPhone: consider the device a 'testing ground' for something bigger, greater, more ominous. Should Apple find enough of the ISVs who so eagerly drink the Kool-Aid continue to do so with the iPhone terms they'll likely try the same thing on their computer operating system.

Bye bye to Version Tracker; bye bye to anyone marketing and selling software for Apple boxes independently of Apple. All software will have to be signed by Apple or it simply won't run, end of story, lights out. You'll not only have to go through Apple to get the software - you'll only be able to get those titles Apple want to let you have.

Nice Brave New World all right. Foibles in Apple's operating system exposed by third party titles? Don't allow the third party titles to be sold. And so forth.

Apple are a curiosity and no more and like never before. For a while they were 'NeXT' but the 'NeXT' is gone and all that remains is 'good old Apple'.

The difference is in the old days they ruined their own operating system and now they're ruining someone else's. Even the fanboys couldn't use MacOS in the end and the same thing is happening to OS X: it's becoming unusable. The incompetence in Cupertino is unparalleled and staggering. Fantastic new APIs and sophisticated system designs but loose wires tangled with more loose wires tangled with...

As more and more warts appear Apple try to shift to new markets and employ political tools to hide the warts rather than consider a corporate upheaval to correct the matter from within.

With an insignificant market share they're desperate at stopping from expansion they can't be taken seriously anymore by the major players. Windows might suck but it's going to keep 90+% of the market. If you want to write software you write it for Windows. Period. You don't stroll down garden paths with a glass of Kool-Aid in hand.

See Also
Macworld UK Poll: Grow the Mac Business
Macworld UK: Developers react to iPhone SDK

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