The actual change in the contract is an addition to section 3.3.1, which used to read, "Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs." Here's the new wording:
Apple quietly changed the agreement yesterday, knowing that most of the press would be distracted by the iPhone OS 4.0. The new provision already has some developers furious. (Credit where credit is due -- the developer who writes the "As Seen Through PeriVisioN" blog pointed this out to me in a comment yesterday.)
But this is hardly the first serious restriction in the agreement on how developers may work and market:
- You can only sell an app through Apple. If it rejects or withdraws the app, you're not allowed to sell it through any competing app store.
- You can't reverse engineer anything by Apple, even if to ensure interoperability in a manner that U.S. courts have accepted as legal.
- You can't change how any Apple-made device works, which means that an iPhone OS developer can't adapt an iPod to work with open source software. This remains true even after contract termination, so developers may be precluded from future business activity that would otherwise be legal.
- Developers must agree to the contract before downloading any development tools, so they can't ever develop iPhone-compatible apps and then change their minds and work with an app store competitors.
- They can't even install the iPhone OS software developer's kit -- the basic development tool -- on a non-Apple branded computer.
Should this happen -- and I think it's more a matter of when than if â€"- I bet a settlement would include enough changes to seriously dent Apple's strategic approach to maintaining control over its closed ecosystem. One can only hope.
Original image: Flickr user umjanedoan, CC 2.0.