Webmonkey Maps iPhone App Developers’ Frustration

Let’s face it, a number of iPhone developers are pissed at how Apple has been treating them — the prohibitive $100 fee to register as an Apple developer, the proprietary development tools, the overreaching nondisclosure agreements (NDA), the possibility of your app being banned. Worse, developers are cowering in fear and playing along lest Apple get temperamental and exclude them from collecting their slice of the very profitable Apple pie.

We believe the strength of the development community is a very powerful thing. Apple, or any other big player, shouldn’t take that for granted. Community is the bread and butter of the internet and computer science, and it’s what Webmonkey is all about.

We’re providing a semi-anonymous forum for developers to document their involvement in the events in this debacle so far. We’ve used the web service Dipity to create a timeline of App Store gaffs, rejections and bans. We encourage you to add to the timeline where you see fit. Drop in an event, link to your blog or a news story about a particular app — whatever you feel belongs.

We are doing this because we think it’s important to get the information out there. We don’t want you to get sued by Apple for breaking an NDA, so if that’s your worry, we encourage you to tell your friends about our timeline. Also, Dippity doesn’t ask for a login or e-mail to post. And of course, there’s always Tor. Alternatively, you can leave a comment below.

If you need some help catching up, here’s a brief rundown:

Apple forces everyone to sign an nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to download the software development kit — the very basic tools needed to start programming for the iPhone. The NDA forbids developers from talking about programming for the iPhone with other like-minded developers. No talking means no community, and you are 100 percent reliant on Apple for all of your development needs. Developers can’t even complain about the NDA under the NDA. Fear of Apple’s wrath gets worse. Once Apple started accepting applications, some apps got through and appeared on the App Store while others did not. It’s not a first come, first served process. There isn’t a thorough vetting process either — some apps get into the store by accident, before they even work. The process seems completely arbitrary.

These are the frustrations that have led some to pursue ad-hoc distribution outside of the Apple App Store. Some developers are also preparing to jump ship and begin coding for Google’s much more open Android mobile OS instead, albeit without the lucrative ecosystem of Apple’s App Store or the volume of potential customers in the iPhone’s user base.

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