Apple â?? Control freak or quality catalyst?

Apple â?? Control freak or quality catalyst?
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

April 12th 2010 at 12:25PM

An industry is divided, as iPhone OS 4.0 ToS appear to reveal a move to oust anything but native code

As analysis of Apple's new terms of service for the forthcoming iPhone OS 4.0 continues, it's becoming apparent that the firm seems to be tightening its grip on the way games are developed for the platform.

In short, Apple is proposing that all iPhone and iPad applications must be 'originally written' in C/C++/Objective-C, which would seem to suggest Jobs' and his team are eager to implement an ecosystem that encourages the use of native code and the Cocoa Touch API as the sole platform for App development.

This model would of course be bad news for the high-profile 'meta-platforms' such as Adobe's Flash, and alternative App development platforms that run above Cocoa Touch such as .Net through MonoTouch.

Jobs himself has apparently already voiced his opinions on the advantages of minimalising the role of 'intermediate' platforms, in an email conversation published by Mashable. According to the website, Jobs' replied to an email by Tao Effect developer Greg Slepak that claimed "SDK TOS are growing on [the iPhone products] like an invisible cancer".

"From a developer’s point of view, you’re limiting creativity itself," suggested Slepak, to which Jobs replied: "We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform."

High profile technology pundit John Gruber has also pitched in, via his famed Daring Fireball blog, where he opines that Apple's new ToS are an attempt to standardise development on the iPhone; something the opinion-former presents as a reasonable business model.

"I don’t think Apple even dreams of a Windows-like share of the mobile market. Microsoft’s mantra was (and remains) “Windows everywhere”." writes Gruber. "Apple doesn’t want everywhere, they just want everywhere good. The idea though, is to establish the Cocoa Touch APIs and the App Store as a de facto standard for mobile apps — huge share of both developers and users.

"If, say, a mobile Flash software platform — which encompassed multiple lower-level platforms, running on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — were established, that app market would not give people a reason to prefer the iPhone."

The backlash against Apple has already begun, and as reported by our sister site PCR, Adobe's ‘platform evangelist’ Lee Brimelow used his blog to claim Apple is implementing “tyrannical control over developers and more importantly, wanting to use developers as pawns in their crusade against Adobe.”

“The fact that Apple would make such a hostile and despicable move like this clearly shows the difference between our two companies,” wrote Brimelow. “All we want is to provide creative professionals an avenue to deploy their work to as many devices as possible. We are not looking to kill anything or anyone.”

Apple's 4.0 OS, which introduces an Xbox Live-styled social network and in-App advertising system, has actually been received with some warmth by a number of developers, who left supportive comments for the forthcoming upgrade over on CasualGaming.biz, where the sentiment was that opening the doors to the likes of Flash would "simply flood the app store with a bunch of crap".

Elsewhere, on it's own blog, Unity has responded to suggestions that its Unity3D platform may be one of many caught in the crossfire.

"We haven’t heard anything from Apple about this affecting us," reads the post Unity's David Helgason. "We believe that with hundreds of titles (or probably over a thousand by now), including a significant proportion of the best selling ones, we’re adding so much value to the iPhone ecosystem that Apple can’t possibly want to shut that down.

"Our current best guess is that we’ll be fine. But it would obviously be irresponsible to guarantee that. What I can guarantee is that we’ll continue to do everything in our power to make this work, and that we will be here to inform you when we know more – as soon as we know more."