Apple Drops Non-Disclosure Agreement

Dennis Faas's picture

iPhone developers are rejoicing after Apple recently lifted its Non-Disclosure Agreement for iPhone software.

In a statement on the company's website, Apple said, "We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software. We put the NDA in place because the iPhone operating system (OS) includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect... However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone's success, so we are dropping it for released software." (Source:

Apple put the NDA in place as an extra layer of protection against intellectual property theft, but the unintended consequence was the stifling of innovation. The NDA prohibited developers from swapping tips, pitfalls to avoid and other technical information that software makers had discovered. The agreement also prohibited anyone from publishing an article, book or magazine about the tricks of the iPhone software trade.

Left in an impossible situation, many developers complained Apple's policy was too harsh. In a recent post on Ars Technica, many developers felt that they were losing faith in working on the iPhone platform amid the imposing constraints. Why Apple chose to revise its policies now is not clear, but certainly the growing frustration coupled with heightened interest in T-Mobile's G1 phone -- the first mobile device to be released with Google's Android open source software -- likely caused Apple to rethink its policies. (Source:

Apple has suffered a lot of criticism lately for its mysterious and confusing business practices. In addition to the NDA, there has been a lot speculation recently about Apple's mysterious "kill switch," giving the iPhone maker the ability to immediately pull an app from active phones.

Hacker Jonathan Zdziarski discovered the kill switch this summer, and it led many to question whether it was worth it to develop applications when they are seemingly held hostage to Apple's whims. There is also concern about Apple's mysterious approval process for applications, which tied into the iPhone tethering debacle.

While the NDA has loosened restrictions and will most likely create a boom for iPhone development materials, beta testers will still have to keep quiet. Apple's NDA will not extend to software that is not publicly available to the development community.

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