iPhone SDK "Hostile" Compared to Palm Pre's Mojo?

Our sibling-site PreCentral.net points us to an interesting developer commentary up on Ars Technica which provides this little golden spitball of insight:

he had a lot of good things to say about how Palm is handing the extremely nascent developer community and his hopes for the future of the platform. The developer told us that he has explored mobile development on Apple's iPhone SDK and found much of the company's position towards their community to be "developer-hostile"—an obvious reference to their insistence on enforcing a pointless NDA well past its expiration date and their strong hand in regulating what can and cannot be developed for its platform.

Apple, of course, is providing Cocoa Touch, an iPhone-optimized version of their Objective C frameworks that, while highly administrated by Apple, provides desktop-class power with a hefty of amount of access to developers. Palm, by contrast, is using Mojo as an open, web-standards based framework for the webOS, which we're guessing will be something similar to how Widgets work (half way between WebApps and native apps).

Every solution comes with compromises, so in the end it will be up to each developer to choose which platform(s) best suit their needs and the apps they want to build, but is the way in which Apple treats developers -- something entirely outside the SDK -- going to be a concern as competing alternatives like Android and webOS become increasingly available?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone SDK "Hostile" Compared to Palm Pre's Mojo?

13 Comments

What consumers want on their iPhone is great iPhone experiences. They do not want apps that look ugly, are buggy or are simply useless. To keep consumers happy with their iPhone, it is necessary to set the bar high and developing for iPhone is simply not for everyone. Those who understand what Apple is about won't be the ones complaining.

No company is going to be able to please all developers. However, with 15,000 apps approved and more on the way somehow I'm not all that concerned that this developer is representative of all developers or that there is a rift in the community. His issues with Apple, while legitimate for some developers, is simply not stopping money from being made by those who write apps for the iPhone platform. And making money for the effort is what it is ultimately all about. Fortunately, there are other mobile markets to develop for. Unfortunately, none have been commercialized to the degree of the App Store - yet.

Fanbois may be worthless in your eyes, but when you say "fanboy" I hear "demand", and where you see demand, there too will be supply. In other words, Apple has built up hype and momentum (the two playing off each other), and as such it matters little how "open" or "friendly" these companies are to developers, the developers will go where the consumers go, which right now, is with apple.

@Evil Kerek:
I've been a fanboy over twenty years and I'm still standing. Proof that your dreams ain't gonna happen. BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! :lol:

You come on an iPhone site complaining about fanbois? What makes you think the pre will sell? The phone could be better but if people don't want a widget phone it will fall on it's face

The iPhone development community seems very strong, and plenty of money is being made for the best developers.

Everybody is going gaga over the palm widget phone, it has yet to be released for all we know it could end up flopping like the other iclones

This really should not be a surprise, much less controversial. Apple has never given developers as much support as they want. Windows did not trounce MacOS because it was superior, but (in part) because Microsoft bent over backwards for "developers, developers, developers." Microsoft made a deliberate choice to court developers of every size and shape, which resulted in Windows having a far larger and richer application base, at the cost of consistency and occasionally stability.
Apple, just as deliberately, made the opposite choice -- almost a "my way or the highway" message to developers, as well as far less hand-holding. This allowed for more clearly focused platform design, and arguably, a higher average application quality. But the Mac market shrunk due to this disadvantage and, especially as industry-specific one-off applications became more and more significant, the business market voted for Windows, dragging most of the rest of us along with it.
Will this be a concern for the iPhone long-term? It is not as clear that the smartphone market shares many of the same driving forces as the PC market. As long as the smartphone remains a simple, broad-based device, absolutely not -- that covets Apple's strengths, and does not strongly value Microsoft's approach. If (or when) smartphones start to take on more and more single-purpose functionality requiring low-level customization, Apple's SDK restrictions, and their history of less-than-stellar developer support, could very well put them at a disadvantage compared to Android, Palm, or even WinCE. Of course, even for that to matter, some person (or, more likely, corporate shop) would have to develop a fantastically useful application that is either not possible with the iphone SDK or not possible without the levels of support Apple historically has not provided.
Apple has a strong headstart with a great platform, though, and an object lesson in their own history. Hopefully, should that danger being to materialize, they can adapt accordingly before losing the lion's share of another market.

I personally like the iPhone, however I have Sprint and really am looking forward to the Pre to see what it can do. My question tho is this - why does it always seem in discussions about these phones that this is a war with one phone trying to kill the other? Does it matter? The world seems big enough to me to have two successful phones and platforms.
Success is relative, and it wouldn't take much of one to make Palm look spectacular compared to their performance the past couple of years.
Just a thought.

When we get an alternative browser and 3rd party apps are allowed to run in the background then you will know if Apple really cares about developers.