Apple iPhone NDA and the App Store

John Gruber in a quite elaborate essay on the Apple iPhone NDA and the issues around what gets accessible through App Store and what not: The Fear

Some great takeaways:

Here is a complete list of what Apple must do to increase developers’ trust in the App Store system:

  1. State the rules.
  2. Follow the rules.

That’s it.

So their rejection is problematic on three fronts. First, the submission process is such that an app rejected at the conceptual level — one that cannot be tweaked or fixed to gain entry upon resubmission, but whose fundamental premise is rejected by Apple — such an app is only rejected after it has been written. The developer does all of the work to produce the app and only then finds out it was all for naught.

Second, there are clearly rules which are not listed in the SDK guidelines. Third, in its explanations for the rejections, Apple is not stating what these actual unpublished rules are, and is instead offering as the reason this “it duplicates a built-in app” rule which, given all the aforementioned counterexamples that have been accepted into the App Store, isn’t actually a rule at all. The explanation is clearly false.

Taken together, these three factors lead to The Fear, which is that developers cannot trust the App Store process. You can spend all of the time and effort it takes to build an app, follow every known rule, and still get rejected.

Rules you disagree with are frustrating. Rules you don’t know about are scary.

Worth a read.