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Perhaps company was visited by a very early Christmas ghost -- or more likely is desperate to beat Android

Apple gave its iOS developers some shocking news today -- it was reallowing ports using third-party tools, including ports of Flash apps.  The company writes:

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.
In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.
In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.

That announcement seems particularly amazing given that in April Apple CEO Steve Jobs responded to one disgruntled developer's accusations that he was playing Scrooge, commenting, "We’ve been there before, and intermediate layers between the platform and the developer ultimately produces sub-standard apps and hinders the progress of the platform."

This about-face comes after news hit that Google's Android had passed the iPhone in U.S. market share.  Other recent studies have also confirmed that Apple's smartphone market share is in a downward slide while Android is surging upwards.  Apple has denied that this is happening.

We are awaiting comment from Adobe about whether this means that the converter to port Flash apps to Objective C code will now be restored to the Creative Suite.

Even though Apple is once again being generous with the tools developers use, it's unlikely that opens its tightly closed gates to Flash itself.

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What does this mean?
By Tony Swash on 9/9/2010 12:28:30 PM , Rating: -1
Is this a sign of weakness of strength?

I tend to see it as a sign of confidence in their app platform. App development and app sales on the iOS shows no sign of slowing and Android is not catching up very fast on the app front so this move was not made to shore up a rickety app eco system. Even with the Android surge Android apps make a tiny proportion of the income for developers compared to iOS apps so the whole cross platform issue may just be a lot less concern in Cupertino.

I was intrigued by this comment from Google - intrigued because it looked prepared - almost as if they had had a heads up as to what was coming.

I hope Apple and Google can once again establish a close relationship. Google's relatively sudden decision to break their partnership and then to publicly bait Apple at the IO seemed ill-considered from a strategic point of view, both companies have a lot to gain from partnership and a lot to lose from war.

RE: What does this mean?
By themaster08 on 9/10/2010 2:22:07 AM , Rating: 1
I tend to see it as a sign of confidence in their app platform.
Then why did they do it in the first place? Were they not confident enough before?

I'm sure you're the only one here that somehow sees this as a sign of confidence.

RE: What does this mean?
By Tony Swash on 9/10/2010 6:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
Then why did they do it in the first place? Were they not confident enough before?

I'm sure you're the only one here that somehow sees this as a sign of confidence.

The thing is if, this was a sign of weakness then presumeably it would be a weakness on the App front. This after all is a measure likely to increase or broaden the number of apps on the iPhone from different sources. If Apple really did feel pressured into doing this then it would logically have to be because they felt pressure in relations to the comparative app situation of iOS in relation to other platforms such as Android.

The problem is that there is not the slightest evidence that Apple is feeling competitive pressure on the App front. Apple's App Store still has lots more Apps than its nearest competitors, developers are still making a lot (really a lot) more money on the App Store than on any other platform, the Apple App development framework continues to be undated, improved and highly appreciated by developers.

So where is the pressure on Apple on the App front?

My feeling is that this is a tidying up of the rules once Apple had a look at the various issues it was concerned about and decided it was not particularly threatened by some of stuff it had previously blocked. Its still not supporting Flash itself and the new rules still block development frameworks like Adobe's AIR.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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