on apple and ethics

Today Apple previewed iPhone OS 4.0 to the press, and released a beta to developers. Along with the beta came a new developer agreement. It specifically prohibits submitting apps to Apple that link to iPhone OS APIs using a third party “intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool.” Most notably, this affects the soon to be released Adobe Flash Professional CS5, which features a tool to export flash applications to iPhone binaries.

On this topic Marco Arment tweeted the following:

I’d rather Apple beat Adobe on merit, not anticompetitive legal maneuvers made possible by their ethically questionable gatekeeper position.

It’s understandable to me that Apple’s recent decisions to enforce their patents and place other restrictions on their iPhone OS have turned a few heads. We’re very used to the open platform that exists on the Mac. But even the Mac OS is more closed than Windows and certainly Linux, mainly by the legal restriction limiting its use to hardware that Apple sells. However, to throw into question the ethics of these choices is laughable to me. Apple seems to be held to a much higher standard than any other company. Maybe it’s what we expect, because they make such great things.

As I alluded to back in November concerning the approval process employed by Apple to release iPhone apps, people have been buying and using videogame consoles for decades that make the iPhone ecosystem look like a wonderland of freedom and openness. Just because Apple’s devices are perceived and compared among the landscape of more open systems doesn’t say anything about the ethics of how they’re handling the iPhone/iPad as a platform. I’m not behind anti-competition, but even if that is what’s happening here, we can’t hold Apple to a different standard than everyone else.

April 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Great article Chuck – I completely agree.

Casey, April 9, 2010 at 9:07 am

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