Section 3.3.1. of Apple’s new iPhone developer licence might be illegal as an “insane” restraint of trade, writes Hank Williams.
That section prohibits developers from using any code not originally written in Objective C, the iPhone’s programming language.
So far this change has been covered as Apple’s attempt to prevent developers from converting Flash apps into iPhone apps.
But the implications are much more far-reaching.
As every programmer and product manager knows, most programs take in bits of codes, libraries, engines, etc. that are drawn from others. The concpet of forcing programmers to prove that everything they use was originally written in one language seems both silly and impossible. Certainly in practice this goes against the grain of how product development is done.
This isn’t just a philosophical debate about what restraints Apple ought to have on its app store. It could destroy the work of many developers and companies who rely on the iPhone as their main market and source of revenues.
Williams believes this section will eventually be challenged in court, and that it is plainly illegal as a restraint of trade, but also believes that as that case goes to court, Apple’s entire top-down app store philosophy might be put in jeopardy.
We wouldn’t go as far; we’re not lawyers but it seems to us that it’s not illegal (whether it’s wise is another question) for a platform provider to have a say on what goes and what doesn’t go on their platform, within certain limits.
That being said, section 3.3.1 does assert far-reaching powers that could allow Apple basically to quash any app for any reason, and would put huge strains on developers if they have to prove that everything in their app was originally programmed in C to get approved.
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