iPhone developer EULA turns programmers into serfs

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published the Apple iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, a secretive document that requires its signatories to agree to a gag order on the terms of the deal. EFF got the agreement by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to NASA, who had signed onto it in order to release its app. EFF Senior IP Attorney Fred von Lohmann has some pithy analysis of just how awful this agreement is for the programmers who gets sucked into it:

Overall, the Agreement is a very one-sided contract, favoring Apple at every turn. That's not unusual where end-user license agreements are concerned (and not all the terms may ultimately be enforceable), but it's a bit of a surprise as applied to the more than 100,000 developers for the iPhone, including many large public companies. How can Apple get away with it? Because it is the sole gateway to the more than 40 million iPhones that have been sold. In other words, it's only because Apple still "owns" the customer, long after each iPhone (and soon, iPad) is sold, that it is able to push these contractual terms on the entire universe of software developers for the platform.

In short, no competition among app stores means no competition for the license terms that apply to iPhone developers.

If Apple's mobile devices are the future of computing, you can expect that future to be one with more limits on innovation and competition (or "generativity," in the words of Prof. Jonathan Zittrain) than the PC era that came before. It's frustrating to see Apple, the original pioneer in generative computing, putting shackles on the market it (for now) leads. If Apple wants to be a real leader, it should be fostering innovation and competition, rather than acting as a jealous and arbitrary feudal lord. Developers should demand better terms and customers who love their iPhones should back them.

It's amazing all the ways that the iPhone manages to screw the people that love it: saddling iPhone owners with crappy contracts with abusive mobile companies, limiting their access to programs and forcing them into one-sided EULAs, then screwing the developers with equally abusive agreements. I guess that's one way to think different.

All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple: The iPhone Developer Program License Agreement


  1. This is where my favorite contract doctrine comes into play. “Unconscionably” is when a contract is so manifestly unjust that the consideration does not support the agreement. If a court finds an agreement is unconscionable, The court can chuck it in the round file.

    To be unconscionable, the court must find both procedural and substantive unconscionably. For the latter, it means the terms of the agreement are so one sided as to be unjust. The procedural aspect speaks to the unequal bargaining power.

    IMHO, this doctrine has become more important today than back in the days of Williams v. Walker-Thomas Furniture Co., 350 F.2d 445 (D.C. Cir. 1965) (where a woman entered into an abusive contract with a furniture store catering to the poor). This doctrine needs to be expanded and updated to protect modern consumers. Back in the 60s, people rarely entered into contracts compared to today where we unwittingly enter into dozens each day.

    A good start would be to eliminate the procedural unconscionably prong entirely in contracts between humans and corporations. Simply make them unconscionable per se. This way each contract has to have fair, non-abusive terms or companies will find that they have difficulty getting them enforced.


    sorry, it’s late and EULA abuse gets my blood boiling.

  2. I’m a longtime Apple user and fan, and was delighted to see them finally succeed within a consumer space, with such a hawt bit of gadget porn at that.

    It all started to sour as the App store rolled out, and that singular vision of Apple as the gateway to the device took over and it stank – it stinks – like shit.

    I’m still sort of happy that Apple are doing well – they do make lovely products. And to say they’ve totally stifled innovation is wrong – they have spurned a huge evolution in mobile devices away from buttons towards touch interaction (for good and bad). And while they’ve geared it to maximise their returns in the short term, I can’t help but think and hope it’ll backfire… eventually.

    Jobs is quite happy to look like an arse and be derided in the tech media as long as iTunes sales still trail out long after device sales are over. Look for a redemptive turn and product in 15 – 20 years, when this product cycle and a few others have come and go.

  3. Sigh. I don’t expect much else from Apple these days (and it’s one of the reasons that I use Linux).

    However, I am guessing that Apple won’t have it all their way for much longer (the cracks are showing already with voip on iPhones now possible). Google and others can see the opportunity and as Princes Leia said …

    “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin [Steve], the more star systems [customers] will slip through your fingers.”

  4. “It’s amazing all the ways that the iPhone manages to screw the people that love it”

    And yet, like battered spouses, they keep coming back. The only Apple product I’ve ever purchased is a 3rd gen ipon nano, and based on the “apple experience” it’s provided me, I will not sign up for another beating when it finally breaks down. Itunes is the most monstrously intrusive and unreliable piece of software on my computer, and I long for the day when I can ditch it completely. Stories of other abuses, like the iphone dev EULA, make me hate it even more. I’d throw the damnable thing away now, but I can’t justify tossing a device that DOES technically work.

    Frigging break already!

    1. “Itunes is the most monstrously intrusive and unreliable piece of software on my computer”

      I know! And some people claim to LIKE it?! It’s by far the worst media software I’ve seen.

  5. It’s amazing how many techies, programmers, bloggers, security researchers — and otherwise people who have (or should have) a clue — are willing to turn a blind side to Apple and its abuses. If this were Microsoft, Google, any open source related company, etc… then everyone would be up in arms. With apple though, who has a long history of abusing it’s customers freedoms, the abuses are accepted, defended and even encouraged (bow down to Steve). No denying they make sexy hardware, but Apple gaining dominance is about the worst outcome for the technology field I can think of.

    1. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Apple has more tyrannical lock-in than Microsoft ever had, with the exception of IE, and yet it’s never even mentioned – especially not on any broadcast news outlets.

      It really does suck because it sets the stage for other vendors to try pushing more of their own lock-in schemes, instead of trying to put out devices that let the owner do what they want to do.

      I have an iPod 160GB, and I got it because it was the only player with that much storage available. Otherwise, I’d have stayed away from this thing. It’s a pain in the ass to use. You can barely control it without looking, and you cannot adjust the volume without a bare finger. It has ZERO customization side from some simple menu editing, and it uses its’ own proprietary system for storing music that changes all the time to make it difficult for non-iTunes applications to handle.

      I let it slide because it will play non-DRM music, and I can use things other than iTunes – even if it’s a pain in the ass. But to buy anything else Apple and deal with the same bullshit on something that I’m supposed to use for more than a simple music player? No thanks. Too bad I’m a minority.

      The people that buy into this crap are people that don’t know, or don’t care that they are contributing to the downfall of open computing. And it’s bad for all of us.

  6. In a classic business strategy point of view, Apple is just exploiting their bargaining power (see e.g. Porter’s Industry analysis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porter_five_forces_analysis). The long term effect widepends on how they manage to adjust to changes in industry structure. So far, no large company have found it worthwhile to take a fight on the DPLA, but with more users and more useful applications with increased revenue potential this may change. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon or Google will do so if the DPLA put limitations to their business models.

  7. Why are people continually surprised with this?

    Do you really think there weren’t some caveats in a medium where you could upload your simple little app and make hundreds of thousands?


  8. Back when Apple first introduced the Mac, they had a developer agreement that was almost as obnoxious.

    At that time, I decided that I did not need to develop software for any company that behaved this way.

    Apple’s attempts to control everything about their hardware and software is probably the major reason why IBM/Microsoft became number 1 and Apple missed their chance.

    After 20 years, Apple has had a couple of years back in the lead. And I still will not write software for their platforms.

    In 20 years, Steve Jobs hasn’t learned a damned thing.

    And I predict that someone else will treat the public right and Apple will once again come in a distant second.

  9. (sobs) Stop picking on Apple. It’s not their fault. The record companies/telcos/book publishers/film producers/Steve Job’s Mum made them do it. They can’t help it. It’s not fair you keep picking on them. They’re just trying to give you a seamless experience where you really like the strait jacket because it’s just *so* comfortable. And all your friends have been so complimentary about your smart new strait-jacket 2.0 (Sobs some more) Please give Apple a break. Please.

  10. erm… Apple leads the market? Maybe they lead the hypescape where their every move is echoed by media but marketwise they own 16-18% of smartphone market and less than 10% of personal computers. Portable media players is where they own a huge share (around 75%) but even there, that product is shrinking fast due to pmp integration with mobile phones.

    It’s about time that people recognize how greedy Apple has become and stop chanting the “it’s not overpriced but innovative” mantra. They have some fine products but their insistence to cripple them so they fit a specific sales model they want to impose is far from innovative and/or user friendly.

  11. Apple is worse than Sony in keeping a death grip on how trheir products are supposed to be used. When Apple banned bikinis from appstore I really felt the pejorative mac talibans was too good to be true.

  12. And yet, despite these draconian restrictions, iPhone customers and developers are eating it up. Yes, the app store ecosystem is severely restricted. But the fact that it’s restricted is a boon to Apple and its customers. The option to jailbreak will always exist. But most customers 1) don’t care, and 2) enjoy the stability and quality offered by a closed system, as trite as that sounds. Apple is benefiting from the arrangement, and they won’t change until customer opinions trend the other way. Sorry, but it’s just business, using phrases like “straitjacket” and “feudal lords” makes it sound like you don’t really understand what’s at stake here.

    1. Especially as the term „feudal lord“ and „serf“ are deeply, deeply wrong. Yes, I know that Anglos in general and Americans in particular have an innate need to reach for superlatives and the like, but really – if you don’t like Apple’s terms, leave. Because you can. A serf, however, can’t – his feudal lord will literally hunt him down and kill him.

      Seeing that slavery is still around, even in Western countries, I have little patience with overblown whining.

      1. Actually “serf” is a pretty good metaphor.
        A serf could leave the land (often) but then had no way to provide livelihood for his family – all other arable land under the control of other lords.
        Sometimes a lord, opening up a new area, like, say the dense forests north of the germanies or newly de-moorish-depopulated Castille, would offer land plus a looser agreement to induce serfs to move.
        After the black death population crash, this became a lot more common, and, again, fitting the metaphor nicely, lords were driven to offer better terms because land without serfs produced no income.
        Yes, of course it varied regionally, places with captive populations the worst, e.g. slavs under the Rus,

        1. Serfs could own private property, but not hold land. They were usually bound to the land and they could *not* leave the land. It was not slavery in so much as serfs couldn’t be sold by themselves, but if the land they were alloted to

          Also, serfdom was inheritable – become a serf and all your offsprings will be serfs, too.

          So, no at good metaphor.

          Actually, Apple’s term leave a lot to be desired. (I wonder if they are totally enforcable, esp. over here in Germany.)

    2. Actually, the option of jailbreaking iPhones hasn’t always existed — there have been gaps of a few weeks after new OS releases when no crack was available for the new version. And the only reason that it’s that short is that the teams that develop jailbreak utilities hold security holes in utilities “in reserve”, to keep Apple from closing them off.

      More generally, there’s an idea going around that the jailbreak culture has some sort of informal sanction from Apple — that they deliberately allow it to continue. Which seems, to me, inconsistent with Apple’s continued legal and technical action trying to brand jailbreakers as illegitimate, and get in their way.

      (Contrast to, say, the Nexus One, from a vendor that does want to support unconventional uses of the phone, at least to a point. Its hardware security can be disabled by downloading the “fastboot” utility from Google, hooking up the phone, and typing “fastboot oem unlock” — which sets a hardware “warranty void” flag, and then lets you load any OS image you like. Or the Palm Pre, which can be put into “dev mode” with the Konami code…)

      1. As a longtime T-Mobile customer who has been trying to switch over to the Nexus One (from my bought-at-full-price-at-launch G1) let me put in two cents.

        First, in order to get the Nexus One I will have to _double_ my monthly payment to T-Mo. Not to get a discount, mind you – even if I pay full price for an unlocked phone I will still need a special plan which ends up as double the plan my family has for G1s. If I want a $250 discount on the phone I have to commit to two years of this.

        Also, because there are three companies involved (T-Mo, HTC, Google) finding this out took six confusing phone calls, and each blames the other. HTC and T-Mo are agreed that it’s Google’s fault that you need this special individual plan. Google simply says “T-Mobile requires each person in the family get an individual plan to have a Nexus One.” I don’t really care whose fault it is.

        I’m sorry, tell me how awful AT&T/Apple are being again, I forgot. I’m on my way to the Apple store later anyway to pick up an iPhone.

        1. “even if I pay full price for an unlocked phone I will still need a special plan” I don’t know what the sales minions told you, but that’s just plain wrong. If you buy an unlocked phone, just swap out the SIM with the one in your existing G1 and Tmob is none the wiser.

      2. “Or the Palm Pre, which can be put into “dev mode” with the Konami code…)”

        If you’re serious, that’s awesome.

  13. While I agree that it’s very restrictive, it’s also this rather absolute control that makes the iPhone platform work. And that’s why they sold 40 million, because unlike more open platforms, they control everything and they can make it inter-operate.

    I’m not saying that it’s a good thing, but given that it keeps selling like hot cakes, they have very little incentive to change that. It’s obviously what people want, and good enough that people are happy to put up with what comes with it.

  14. This past year I ditched my Dell laptop and bought a shiney Mac Book Pro. It was sooo shiney! I also got an iPhone. It seemed so cool.

    New tools, new possiblilites, more productivity, more joy!

    Oh, but they won’t play nicely together. I just want them to sync, but my Mac Book keeps trying to erase my (pre-owned) iPhone.

    And all the stupidity around the iTunes apps. There’s tons and tons of crap, yet Apple keeps banning stuff that sounds useful.

    I’m sure everything possible. I just need to spend an hour or two on it and void the warenty.

    As for the Mac Book… to be honest, the laptop is very nice. I like it better than the PC. But really maybe not sooo much better. Hard to say it’s worth the price tag.

    What’s that? iPad? No, I think I’ll pass.

  15. When I put all the bits here into perspective, I’d say Steve Jobs knows people (and developers) will suck arse to earn some money. Isn’t that generally what people do? They put up with a shitty job they hate, have crap relationships, will try and dodge the system (tax) to get a bit more. So the developers are being chained to the table Apple built.

    But they are making money! When they are, they dont care. Like someone said, its a closed system = less risk. Which is great to guarantee that Apple’s system wont compromise their ability to make money.

    So, really, if this was a deal, there would be substantial rumblings that would be acted upon. Not a generic grumble about the Overlords. Which makes sense. The Overlords are allowing you to make money.

    Entrepreneurs know this, and work the system to get what they want. Employees complain. Yes, I am biased there because I am starting my own business, but imho I see employees as the biggest complainers about the way things are, and at no time do I see them putting forward a 5-point plan on how to move from being an employee.

    Would Apple attract 100,000 developers if it was open-sourced, or better still, democratic? That’s right, democratic. The pure way. All decisions about the system are decided by the developers and engineers within Apple, and Jobs has one vote only.

    If you want that sort of system, start your own company and be determined to keep it democratic against all twitches that say ‘impose control’.

    Jobs can impose control, noone really stops him, so he goes and does it. Why should they, really. He isn’t impounding them in a Berlin Wall. He isn’t sending them to war. He isn’t restricting their constitutional rights. He is making others money, and himself. Most people seem to like that, no matter what. Like, you know, ethics. Most seem to be pffffff to the idea of ethics affecting their ability to make moolah. So why should Jobs act otherwise?

    So I suggest everyone here buy shares in Apple, gain a controlling interest, then sack him, put in someone who will make the EULA fair and….well, democratic (the pure way), and that is that fixed. Then make Apple open sourced completely (the only way to go), and then deal with this thing called the Stock Market and Shareholders.


  16. Anyone who remembers the days of the Macintosh, just before they made the PowerPC as a concession to the PC market, will recognize the same worrying business strategies cropping up again:

    1.) Aggressively holding on to its hardware, SDK and OS, not letting outside developers touch it.

    2.) Trying to dominate it’s corner of the market all by itself, somehow assuming it will be powerful enough to out-innovate and out-muscle the rest of the world indefinitely.

    This stubbornness was precisely the reason why they lost so much marketshare in the late 80’s and early 90’s (and had to make the PowerPC in the first place), and it will happen again. I agree that such an anticompetitive business model cannot be sustained forever. Eventually, times change, and the company that’s too busy suing potential competition is going to be caught out.

    Indeed, if you’ve been following developments in the far east with Iphone knock-offs, the market share wars may be starting again…

  17. “Think Different” by doing EXACTLY what we tell you to do.

    Me, I prefer the riotous anarchy of the PC world.

  18. It’s amazing how many techies, programmers, bloggers, security researchers — and otherwise people who have (or should have) a clue — are willing to turn a blind side to Apple and its abuses. If this were Microsoft, Google, any open source related company, etc… then everyone would be up in arms

    That’s because Apple still has the image of the innovative-but-battered underdog, standing up and thumbing its nose at Microsoft and fighting the good fight. Apple users who have been with the company since it was the company with the “technically superior but not as widely adopted” platform are still dedicated to the company – it’s hard for them to slot Apple into the same role that Microsoft once held.

  19. First they came for the developers, and I did not speak out—because I was not a developer……

    It astounds me – Microsoft gets sued for gajillions of dollars for bundling IE with Windows, and people jump on the MSFT hate bandwagon.

    Apple comes up with scheme after scheme, each more abusive, controlling and machievellian than anything Microsoft ever dreamed of, and are rewarded by the same consumers they are slapping around.

    I don’t get it.

  20. Whatever this is, it isn’t news. The terms pointed out in the EFF’s breathless article echo things developers have been complaining about for the two years the developer program’s been in existence.

    And this isn’t new to the iPhone platform, either — game console developers have been dealing with restrictive acceptance processes ever since the NES system in the mid-80s.

  21. Interesting. Let me translate this clause from lawyer into into English:

    (Schedule 1, 3.1, et seq.) “If you want to be a dick and include a EULA with your app so you can bend over the consumer and do to them what we are doing to you, we get to sit on your shoulder and dictate terms to you. If you choose not subject your end users to this kind of treatment, too bad– we will just insert our own EULA.

    By the way, we get to write the EULA between you and your end user, but it’s a contract between you two. We have no part of it even though we wrote it. …And we had sex with your mom.”

  22. @#26: Microsoft did not get sued for simply bundling IE with Windows. They were charged with antitrust violations for illegally using their Windows monopoly to crush a then-vibrant and competitive web browser market through massively subsidizing IE and bundling it not only with Windows but with as much third party stuff as they could. Do you not remember a time around 1998 when programs like Acrobat Reader were bundled with IE4 and required it as a prerequisite for installation, or when the standard browser shipped and supported by AOL, which owned Netscape, was IE?

    Maybe one day Apple will be charged with illegally abusing a monopoly, but equating this developer agreement with Microsoft’s repeated antitrust violations during the 90s seems to be a bit of a stretch.

    Let’s also keep things in perspective. The iPhone is not a replacement for a general-purpose desktop computer. It is a smart device that supports a more limited range of capabilities in exchange for a combination of portability, ease of use, and integration of capabilities. It could possibly be more open without sacrificing much in the way of seamlesness and integration, but it could also be more closed and still be useful within its niche. I put the iPhone in the category with the Wii, set-top media players, and Internet-capable TVs. Openness is a great feature, but it is not the only feature that matters, and sometimes there are trade-offs. A system does not have to be deliberately locked-down either, in order to be closed. For many users, a homebrew Gentoo Linux machine might as well be a locked-down corporate PC, as they lack the technical ability to make use of all the open standards, protocols, and source code, or even run apt. For some, a locked-down device that provides a few easy to use options provides more choice than a wide-open device that requires a high level of expertise and effort in order to use any options.

    In short, buy what works for you, but recognize that there is also value in managed, limited capability products. And if you want to decry Apple’s heavy-handed corporate tactics, by all means do so–they are indeed unhealthy–but recognize that they aren’t unique to Apple: they’re used by all of the large, amoral, for-profit, shareholder value driven corporations that we created and now depend upon.

  23. @Anon #30- What was this ‘vibrant browser market’ that you speak of? Netscape was the only popular browser in use by Joe Public back then. Can you name any browser other than Netscape that was killed off/lost sales etc. because of Microsoft introducing IE?

    As for the rest- you’re talking through your hat.
    IE4 had a customizable installer that let you choose exactly what extra components you wanted-Directshow codecs, ActiveMovie controls, Outlook Express and others. Even the integration into Windows was optional with the IE4 installer (it became mandatory with later versions). I have installed IE4+Active Desktop on my barebones Win95 B OS back in ’98.
    Netscape on the other hand, after being bought out by AOL, insisted on bundling RealPlayer and Winamp with its 4.x version installers; you could not uninstall them.

    Finally, finally- if you didn’t want to use IE…you could still install Netscape and use that. Or Opera, which had just launched around that time.

    On an untampered ‘virgin’ iPhone, you CANNOT install software of your choice- you’re restricted to what Apple thinks is good for you courtesy the appstore.

    Opera Mobile, a fantastic little browser, is barred from the Appstore because it competes with Safari.

    Can you IMAGINE the public outcry if Microsoft had tried to block Netscape from being installed?

  24. Jesus. You cry babies just don’t get it.

    Apple is supposed to be closed and controlled platform, period. The minute it opens up its platforms, it’ll turn into Windows, an ugly beast that can do everything, but does everything in crappy ways.

    I’ve been using Apple products since in elementry school starting with Apple II, and I can as everyone else attest to that Apple paid dearly for making the Macintosh a closed platform. There just wasn’t good enough software/games compared to the PC/DOS, although the platform itself was light years ahead of PC/DOS. It was a tool for very specific purposes (e.g. desktop publishing) that failed to reach the mass. Heck, even I didn’t want to buy a Macintosh since it lacked the software I wanted to use; all those software applications and possibilities were on the PC.

    Microsoft and Bill Gates knew this, and its specific strategy was to go totally open with Windows 3.1, let any and everyone publish software for it–something that Apple did not allow with Macintosh and never has since, and consequently Microsoft won the personal-computing platform war.

    Sure, Apple products don’t do this and that, but it does sufficient number of things and in many, if not most, cases do them excellently. Let Apple do their thing, sit back, and enjoy watching how far they take itself and customers with their ‘closed and controlled’ platforms and products. If you don’t like it, then simply don’t buy and use it!

    If you don’t like Mac, you can go for Windows.

    If you don’t like iPhone, go with Windows Mobile or Android.

    If you don’t like iPad, keep using your netbook.

    For every Apple product, you have an alternative. What are you complaining about?

    Apple has achieved numerous times what others possibly can’t in their wildest imaginations and dreams only because it kept its platforms ‘closed and controlled’. I’m not necessarily gaga over such a business model, but it’s their business model, and frankly, I don’t want an industry where everyone does the same thing, and runs on the carbon-copy business models. Let there be Apple, let it be different, let it be in control.

    Apple products don’t do ‘everything,’ but doing ‘everything’ comes at the prices of crappy and often impossible user experience, so giving up some things is justified. People complain the entire Windows experience is too complicated and often downright impossible: How many people do you know who just can’t use software on Windows or other smartphones? The super majority, in fact. Well, it’s that Apple’s ‘controlled, closed, and technologically limited’ philosophy behind every product that offer such a smooth and hassle-free ride.

    If my Windows laptop runs 4 hours straight without recharging, I’m lucky, and because of that I can’t use it as a true portable device which I can carry and utilize all day. On the contrary, iPad, while not doing multi-tasking, can run for 10+ hours without recharging–doing apps, videos, and whatnot, making it obviously a more portable device. There is no way I’ll give up my laptop as I do programming and heavy writings on it, but it would be nice to have something like iPad around.

    Pray that Microsoft will come to rescue once again for your gripes, but I wouldn’t want a world in which Apple does Microsoft-ing, trying to do ‘everything’ and please ‘everyone’ in order to gain ‘everything,’ and totally and miserably fail at doing anything exceptionally well.

    Also, for the 5% of the population who are extraordinarily good at technology–no doubt pretty much everyone visiting boingboing.net and commenting on its articles belong in that exclusive category, there are the other 95% of the world’s population who are practically retards when it comes to ‘just using’ technology. I’ve had friends, (not to stereotype anyone, but especially women, both young and old), who had problem with something as simple as browsing the web, and one physics professor I’ve had in college (who was my advisor, nonetheless) had trouble printing webpages correctly from a web browser. You may feel technology is easy and intuitive, but for most other people, it’s a weird and purplexing beast they can never feel friendly about nor befriend nor trust. Trust me on this: the majority of people cannot utilize multi-tasking, and you probably know it already from your own encounters. They have trouble navigating the taskbar and often forget why it’s there.

    Closed, controled, limited to make it easy to use so that anybody with an ounce of brain can use it? Why the hell not? A technology’s triumph rests on transforming people’s daily lives and how many people use it in their daily lives, not in the number of features, nor the openness, nor the number of people it would eventually aspire to become engineers and technophiles.

    Let Apple control the user experience. If their business and technology philosophy of simplicity fails, there surely will be others who will make your life better than Apple, although may not make it simpler. It’s just that nobody has yet to beat Apple that in the smartphone space. As much controling as Apple might be, I dread the prospect of the world where there is no Apple, in which every company is ‘open’ and ‘Microsoft-like’, churning out one product after another, bulky hardware and software jam-packed with features that nobody can use without studying the manual in-depth with an engineering degree under his/her belt.

    In the past 10 years or so, not a single idiotic bright minds in other technology firms came up with a notion of making a tablet 0.5 inch thick and 1.5 pounds without the stylus and keyboard–instead of 1.5 inches thick and 5 pounds with fancy rotating screens, so that a tablet is as simple as it can get, albeight not without performance and feature sacrifices.

    Engineers love complicating life. Apple, on the other hand, loves simplifying it. “Do less, yet still do great things in elegant ways unparalleled.” If that entails ‘control, closeness, technical limitations, and limited market share,’ heck go for it. Somebody has to play the role of simplifying life for the everyday people, and show that some things can be different and way better, and in the past 35 years or so of personal digital computing revolution, only one company, a sole one, has done the deed: Apple. Let them be. Elegance and simplicity will come to an end if and when Apple opens up and tries to embrace all. The world of technology business already has too many of that do-it-all-ism engrained in its thinking fiber–in fact, everyone except Apple. We all know what the result is: Confusion, misunderstandings, and disgraces that nobody can escape from.

    As a consumer, I would give up neither Apple nor Microsoft. Call me greedy, but I love having the best of both worlds. Why have just one?

    As much as you would love the notion, one thing just can’t be everything. The world isn’t built like that.

    Let Apple be Apple; let there be simplicity.

    1. > … I love having the best of both worlds. Why have just one… Let Apple be Apple…

      There are things like patents in US that allow big companies claim invention of a wheel (by the way there is a funny precedent when one guy actually claimed invention of the wheel in Australia, dunno if it was granted). And Apple considers everyone is stealing their ideas like “Patent #7,657,849: Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image” (touch-swipe screen to unlock your phone) or “Patent #7,362,331: Time-Based, Non-Constant Translation Of User Interface Objects Between States” (animated minimizing/maximizing windows).

      Full article describing Apple’s claims to HTC:

      I wonder if they have Patent XXXX: Using man-touched common object-shaped surface deformations on devices to solely identify manufacturer (bitten apple on a lid)…

      I don’t mind simplicity. But this simplicity starts preventing other things from becoming simple.

  25. @ #34

    Most general user problems with software that I’ve encountered stem from their unwillingness to do what anyone should do with software if they don’t feel like reading the manual: click each dropdown menu or hover over/find out what each button does until you find what you want to do. I’ve solved people’s Mac problems by doing this, and I know absolutely nothing about OSX.

    You’re absolutely right, people are stupid, and Apple is making a gigantic amount of money off of people who don’t want nor feel like they should need to understand how a computer or an operating system works. They want it handed to them on a silver platter. They don’t want to learn, or be creative, or think. They want to consume. They want to be entertained.

    I was originally curious about the iPad because I genuinely thought Apple was going to go in the right direction with tablet-based gadgets. I was so excited to be able to take an iPad along with me and be able to create digital drawings or designs or have a device traveling with me at all times that acts in a way that my phone still doesn’t. I’ve played with the iPad twice now, and it’s exactly how everyone says, “a larger iPhone”.

    I’m probably going to end up getting an MS Courier when it comes out. So far, as someone who wants to make and create things on the go with a tablet and not click through channels like a $750 portable television, the Courier seems like a much better choice than Apple’s latest iAbortion.

  26. Perhaps the greatest danger is that Apple’s “we are in charge and we know what’s best for you” mentality spreads, that other vendors adopt it, and that the public are lured into a Faustian bargin: our product is easy to use, stable, and beautiful… but of course it’s OURS, not really YOURS. To tell me I “own” my iPad or my iPhone, when I can’t actually do a large number of things with it without violating the EULA, is a cruel joke. I “own” the right to keep paying and paying for it, figuratively in the sense of living in a strait-jacket, and literally if it ever needs to be serviced. Sad.

  27. “Anon • #15 • 03:00 on Tue, Mar. 9 • Reply
    “…that’s why they sold 40 million, because unlike more open platforms, they control everything and they can make it inter-operate.”

    Inter-operate with what? My iBone won’t play nice with my Toshiba netbook, and it took a jailbreak tool to get it to play nice with my HP desktop. Not the whole jailbreak, just one tool. But that aside, what inter-operability are you talking about? Same as ADavies • #16 • 03:28 on Tue, Mar. 9 • whose Mac won’t play nice with his iPhone.

    So my Apple device had to be forced to play nice with my Windoze machine, and ADavies can’t make his play nice within a Mac environment.

    And while I am at it, why do I have to use a multimedia program to sync my phone? Why not a nice small footprint sync utility that won’t erase my data? A back up is not a back up if the restore erases my data, which is what iTunes does.

  28. As an iPhone developer, and someone who has worked with Apple pretty closely, I haven’t found their terms to be particularly onerous.

    Throughout history, computers have given power to developers instead of to users. The fact that users have to know what files are, what DLLs are, where programs are installed, etc., mean that developers are in charge of a user’s system, and that the user has (effectively) limited control.

    What Apple has done with the iPhone and iPad is to shift the balance of power away from developers and toward users. The fact that the iPhone and iPad platforms are incredibly popular and commercially successful are evidence that there’s a market for people who don’t want to think about the chance of installing malicious software on their device.

  29. Egads! I can’t find a single place on the Internet where I can go to read the bloody Apple Developer EULA/TOS. All I can find are snippets and quotes taken out of whatever context they are in. Can someone please post a copy of the EULA somewhere?

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