Apple could learn a thing or two from Microsoft

Apple takes a lot of heat from it’s developers for its processes and rules regarding iPhone application development mainly because of poor decisions, lack of communication and the simple fact that they don’t embrace their developers. This is further emphasized in section 3.3.1 the new version of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which developers must agree to before downloading the 4.0 SDK beta:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

What this means to me is that cross-compiling applications like Titanium, Unity3D, Ansca, MonoTouch and the one that I was really interested in, the Adobe Flash to iPhone compiler that is shipping in Flash CS5. I can certainly understand how they would want to be able to control the quality of the apps built to their devices, or emphasize building applications to the strengths of their device, but is the right way to go about really by isolating developers? There are a lot of brilliant programmers out there that could take advantage of any of these applications to build really cool, useful and top notch apps for the iPhone platform that may not really want to be constrained to use xcode on the mac.

Look at Microsoft for a minute, ignoring for a second the awesome video of Ballmer dancing around the stage screaming developers, developers, developers, developers, and see that they love their developers and treat them very well. Besides being everyones favorite whipping boy, Microsoft really has a good crew of developers. Some are MVPs, others have the blue badge, and there are lots of talented people that are fanatical about developing for them.

Apple has fanatical developers too, don’t get me wrong, and there are a lot of really talented ones too. But everyone recognizes that the system and policies behind the iPhone application development process and platform is insanely flawed and that Apple doesn’t care what the developers want in this regard.

Honestly, I was really looking forward to trying the new CS5 features, and this iPhone conversion tool was one of the things I was really excited about. Apple seems to have a thing for Adobe these days with refusing to get Flash on any of their mobile devices, and now this. It seems to me there should be a little more give in there somewhere, I mean, I’m pretty certain that without Adobe, Apple would have likely folded a long time ago.

This isn’t to say I’m going to stop developing for the iPhone, but it does give me something to think about every single time that something like this comes to light. Apple has one of the most closed systems around, but they also have the most reliable hardware that I have ever used. There’s no magic bullet on this one, and you can’t please everyone, but there has to be a better middle ground solution than what’s being presented to us so far.

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