Apple has just released the following statement (via Daring Fireball, who thinks it might have flowed from Steve Jobs' pen):

We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

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.

Updated for clarity: This means that released firmware, like 1.x up to 2.1 is no longer covered by NDA, but un-released firmware, including the current iPhone 2.2 Beta 1, is still under NDA. Okay to talk about what was and what is, but not what will be, b'okay?

Hey, maybe the full on Dieter-rant from the last Phone different podcast finally got to them?

While issues of clarity in the rejection progress and app demo/refund handling remain, this will certainly go a long way towards not only easing the burden on developers, but restoring some of the lost luster (and ill will) Apple has garnered from the developer and blogging community as of late.

What do you think? First step? Giant leap? Or drop in the bucket?