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Apple cancels iFixit's developer account following NDA violation

iFixit, the site best known for their gadget hardware teardowns, had their developer account canceled after publishing a teardown of the new Apple TV developer unit in violation of Apple's terms and conditions. As a consequence, iFixit's app, which was tied to the account, is no longer available in the App Store.

In a blog post, iFixit stated:

Not too long ago, we tore down the Apple TV and Siri Remote. The developer unit we disassembled was sent to us by Apple. Evidently, they didn't intend for us to take it apart. But we're a teardown and repair company; teardowns are in our DNA—and nothing makes us happier than figuring out what makes these gadgets tick. We weighed the risks, blithely tossed those risks over our shoulder, and tore down the Apple TV anyway.A few days later, we got an email from Apple informing us that we violated their terms and conditions—and the offending developer account had been banned. Unfortunately, iFixit's app was tied to that same account, so Apple pulled the app as well. Their justification was that we had taken "actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store, B2B Program, or the Program."

The company also reminded iOS users that they can still enjoy iFixit's mobile web site.

I have been writing professionally about technology and gaming news for 14 years.

52 Comments
  • Wow. They should have asked Apple if it would be OK. Those guys are pretty foolish.
  • Shame on you Apple. Sent from the iMore App
  • Dick move Apple
  • Hardly, iFixIt blaintaly admits they broke the rules and knew it before they did it. Not only that, they shouldn't have taken the hardware to begin with since they had ZERO intention of developing for the platform. That hardware was intended lottery for devs who's actually needed it.
  • Exactly. End of story. Sent from the iMore App
  • Hey NDA's are no joke.
  • Apple being Apple.
    iFixit being Gizmodo.
  • Expect an article from Rene blaming Ifixit
  • Maybe because even iFixIt blamed themselves and admitted it? errrr....
  • Only one article?
  • Guess that means only one comment to enjoy
  • I doubt it since iMore publicized the tear down.
  • iFixit violated Apples NDA
    they are lucky apple has only pulled their developer account
    I'm pretty sure violating a signed NDA can get a nice lawsuit as well as its a contract breach For those saying its bad for apple to pull the accounts , iFixit were dicks who wanted page hits/revenue from violating an NDA. Apple are well within their rights to pull the dev account and can still sue iFixit for violating the NDA
  • They are basically mining this story today for page hits as well. They have a big thing on their blog about it with all this backhanded stuff about how it was no big deal. The whole thing is them using Apple (and us) for publicity. They pretend they are so noble but then they act like school boys. I don't buy into all their "we're so cool because we are training people to fix their devices" shit either. It's BS. No one "fixes" their iPhone or Apple TV nowadays like it was an old XT. Sure, it would be great if everyone knew how to fix their devices and upgraded etc. but it's just not realistic. Those days are past by at least a decade. The percentage of people that actually use iFixit as a source of repair knowledge must be almost microscopic. People just go there to geegaw at the pictures for the most part.
  • Lol. You know nothing about law. Apple cannot do anything except take away their access. Sent from the iMore App
  • If iFixit (or one of their staff) signed any agreements, apple can sue them for breach of the agreement
  • Pretty obvious that Apple would do this. Developers had to sign an NDA before receiving the (subsidised!) kit saying that they would not publish reviews or other information about the new device. iFixit broke that promise.
  • Really? Thanks captain obvious. Sent from the iMore App
  • So if they had bought an Apple TV and disassembled it it would have been fine? It's just that they disassembled the one who was a gift?? Sent from the iMore App
  • I assume they were given a Dev unit under NDA
    they willingly violated the NDA so they could profit from page hit related revenue if they had purchased a retail unit then there would have been no issue
    the fact is the product is not released yet , and they chose to violate any NDA around the Dev units
  • If they had waited until after the embargo (the units go on sale) to publish the teardown video, it would probably have been fine.
    It was an early dev unit with explicit Non Discolsure Agreement.
  • Device was meant strictly for development of apps for it while under NDA. iFixIt had zero intention of developing for.. They knew it, they exploited the system to get the device a head of schedule and admit as much. All the while basically taking a valued lottery slot of another a real dev that could have been developing for the platform. Basically being opportunistic jerks. /shrug
  • I'm almost hoping Apple now take them to court for violation of any NDA's as iFixit's statement clearly showed they intended to ignore it so they could garner page hits Apple probably will have to take them to court because otherwise it'll mean their NDA's have almost zero consequences
  • They can't take them to court. Apple would get killed by any judge for wasting the courts time. Sent from the iMore App
  • If there is a signed agreement, then apple could sue them for breaching that agreement
    they may also be able to sue if they can show iFixit's posting the teardown caused them harm in any way
  • Or waited till it went on sale yes-
  • Oh well. You have to play by the NDA rules.
  • Welp, if you send a pre-release device to a company whose business is tearing down products... I don't blame them. I'd have done the same thing and tore it down. I doubt they care one bit about a silly nda or a dime a dozen dev account. Guess how easy it is to get another one?
  • I don't really blame them for tearing it down, but they've been in this business a long time. They knew better than to release tear down stuff before release. If they would've done the tear down, then publish the report the second the embargo is lifted this wouldn't have happened. They were being opportunistic. They were being like people who post "first" on every comment page.
  • And despite people saying Apple is being evil or whatever, they are actually being very kind here. iFixit has admitted in print that they deceived Apple and broke their NDA. Apple could easily sue them and win. Slam dunk. But they won't, because they aren't actually the assholes here. iFixit is.
  • Apple is not being kind. They're being a petulant child. Th
  • How so?
  • You have no idea what you are talking about. Sent from the iMore App
  • neither do you
  • iFixit's business model is tear downs. This has to be the first device EVER that they've received early from Apple for ANY reason. So, when they say they weighed the options, the conversation went like this, "So, we gonna tear this down or what? What are the drawbacks? Apple will pull our Dev account? We don't really need that anyway. We get EVERYTHING day of so will this REALLY going to hurt us?" I'm sure after the unanimous no's and fuck it's, they we're like let's do it. I'm not mad at them. It doesn't hurt them one bit. It sounds like they didn't plan on updating their app anyway so it was a sound business decision for them. Yea, yea, they violated a NDA but they weighed the options and made a move. It's like sacrificing your Queen.
  • Apple spent a lot of money and gave developers an Apple TV for $1. And the developers who requested to join the lottery were supposed to do request it for app development. Actually ifixit ruined the chance of a genuine developer. Shame on them for misusing this for their publicity. Actually they should be sued a million for this cheap act, but apple has been very lenient to them.
  • A million? Lol. Show me where Apple has suffered damages here in excess of your one million. Sent from the iMore App
  • Punitive damages: "damages intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit." Given the fact that ifixit purposefully and unapologetically misused the privileges, the 1 million is intended to causes damages to ifixit on behalf of the iOS developer community who was betrayed by this cheep act. So that others would be deterred from indulging in such horrendous acts.
  • Ever heard of the company iFixit? Yea great tear down videos. Let's send them a new Apple TV. In other words, do not send a product of you do not want to see it tore down. Fault on both side here. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ever heard of journalists? Somehow they received pre-release iPhones and manage to not publish reviews until the NDA was lifted.
    You break a contract, there is only one person to blame. Sent from the iMore App
  • The journalist thrives on getting pre-release iphones to review. iFixit doesn't. Different priorities. I didn't see all this throwing ifixit under the bus when iMore listed their article a couple of days ago with the teardown. It was all good. Wow, look at that new apple tv. All the usual blogs benefit from the page hits. I don't see the big deal. iFixit weighed the consequences and made a choice. The benefits outweighed the costs. People break contracts all the time...even Apple.
  • You were doing so well until your last sentence. Sent from the iMore App
  • So... The way I see it, Apple didn't care about the Teardown, It was the fact that it was released prior to the release. Like Had iFixit waited a month and posted it the day of release, They'd have been fine. Maybe Apple felt that an iFixit Video app for the AppleTV would have been cool. iFixit is a video Media site. Perfect fit for a TV box.
  • Hope pageviews were worth getting booted from the program to them.
  • You brake the law: there are consequences
    You brake the terms of an NDA: there are consequences
    Very simple, really!
  • Obviously you never graduated law school or any school for that matter. Sent from the iMore App
  • I love how you're going down the list of commenter who mentions the law and saying they know nothing without any explination or correction.
  • It would be nice to see Apple ban the individuals working at iFixit from the developer program. Can you see it? Three years from now when Johnny goes to a start up for a job and finds out - Sorry Johnny our company can't risk hiring you or Apple will pull our developer account because you violated NDA at iFixit.
  • What's stopping them from publishing the app under a different account? Genuine question.
  • I think they would have to change the name of the app and make everyone download the new one.
  • Nothing. According to their blog post, they just don't want to. Besides. Saying "Apple banned our App" makes a great headline!
  • Well that was just a plain stupid move by iFixit. Sure if they wanted to tear it down, do that but don't publish anything until after your NDA has lifted. Sheesh.