Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Apple Hands App Developers an Olive Branch. What About Adobe and AdMob?

Apple wants app developers to know that it has been listening to their grousing, and that it takes their complaints seriously. How seriously? Enough to make some changes in the way its development process works.

Just as important: Apple (AAPL) appears to have opened the door for programs originally created using Adobe’s Flash. And it seems to have given the go-ahead to Google’s AdMob mobile ad network, which it looked ready to block earlier this year.

Apple says it will finally publish guidelines for app approval at its iTunes store “to help developers understand how we review submitted apps.” That may mollify developers’ long-standing complaint about seemingly arbitrary rejections at the store.

But Apple’s other changes seem aimed at making peace–or at least establishing a détente–with corporate rivals Google and Adobe. And perhaps mollifying federal regulators asking antitrust questions.

Some tech observers, like Hank Williams, believe that Apple’s statement regarding 3.3.1 and “developer tools” means that the company will now allow developers to port applications originally designed in Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash over to the iPhone/iPod/iPad platform. If so, that’s a big deal, and investors believe that’s the case–Adobe is up 7 percent this morning.  But it’d be nice to confirm that with Apple, too, so I’ve asked.

Meanwhile, note that section 3.3.9 of the agreement is the one that dealt with mobile app data, which made Google’s (GOOG) AdMob and other advertising and analytic companies upset earlier this year. Based on the changes Apple has made, it appears to have finally given Google the all clear to sell ads on its apps, by removing a caveat that only allowed “independent” ad networks to collect performance data. But third-party analytics companies like Flurry, and perhaps Comscore (SCOR), still appear to be shut out.

UPDATE: Here’s the text of the three changes Apple has made to its developer’s license:

3.3.1 OLD:
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).

3.3.1 NEW:
3.3.1 Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.

3.3.2 OLD:
3.3.2 An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. Unless otherwise approved by Apple in writing, no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s). Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple’s prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.

3.3.2 NEW:
3.3.2 An Application may not download or install executable code. Interpreted code may only be used in an Application if all scripts, code and interpreters are packaged in the Application and not downloaded. The only exception to the foregoing is scripts and code downloaded and run by Apple’s built-in WebKit framework.

3.3.9 OLD:
3.3.9 You and Your Applications may not collect, use, or disclose to any third party, user or device data without prior user consent, and then only under the following conditions:

- The collection, use or disclosure is necessary in order to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application. For example, without Apple’s prior written consent, You may not use third party analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party for aggregation, processing, or analysis.

- The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving
mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

3.3.9 NEW:
3.3.9 You and Your Applications may not collect user or device data without prior user consent, and then only to provide a service or function that is directly relevant to the use of the Application, or to serve advertising. You may not use analytics software in Your Application to collect and send device data to a third party.

Release below:

The App Store? has revolutionized the way mobile applications are developed and distributed. With over 250,000 apps and 6.5 billion downloads, the App Store has become the world’s largest mobile application platform and App Store developers have earned over one billion dollars from the sales of their apps.

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.

In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.

The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik