Apple drops NDA for iPhone developers

Nondisclosure agreement was a huge source of frustration among iPhone developers, who are now free to discuss their released software among themselves.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Developers are now free to discuss software that has been released for the iPhone, after Apple dropped a controversial NDA requirement. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple has decided to end the nondisclosure agreement attached to software that has already been released for the iPhone, in the latest sign that it is starting to take developer concerns to heart.

The company put up a notice on the main Apple developer Web page that, effective immediately, says developers are released from the NDA regarding iPhone software that has already been released. The NDA was one of the most frustrating aspects of iPhone development in its first three official months, forbidding developers from discussing their software and throwing into legal limbo the status of programs such as iPhone development classes. (As evidence of developers' frustration over the NDA, there's even a dedicated Web site whose boldly proclaimed F-bomb of a name leaves no room for doubt on their state of mind.)

Apple's explanation for dropping the NDA follows:

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don't steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

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. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Watch this: Daily Debrief: Apple agrees to iPhone software swapping

Apple has made subtle tweaks to the App Store this week in response to developer concerns, but this is by far the most sweeping change it has made to placate developers, who continue to flood the App Store with iPhone applications. The greatest source of frustration--the nebulous guidelines for what is permitted in the App Store, and what isn't--remains unaddressed as of this moment, but perhaps Apple's decision to drop the NDA means it has realized the extent of developer angst.

The launch of an open-source developer-friendly mobile operating system just last week probably didn't hurt.