Steve Jobs Downplays Negative Feedback to Changed SDK Terms

John Gruber chimes in to further unmount speculation that may spawn an erroneous public opinion

In what was a predictable scenario, a hugely negative answer avalanched from the dome of the tech blogosphere in regards to Apple’s changed clause 3.3.1 of the iPhone SDK terms. A good example comes from one of Adobe’s guys, who, speaking off record, downright told the company to go “screw” itself. Contacted on the matter, Steve Jobs said the company was not worried at all about the negative feedback, suggesting it did what it was only logical to do.

Those who are late to the Adobe VS Apple party can document themselves here, then read their way through the paragraphs below.

Greg Slepak, CEO and founder of TAO Effect, a software company, posted his own reaction to clause 3.3.1 of the iPhone SDK terms. Following his take on the matter, he decided to write Steve Jobs an email, asking what was his position, given the negative flow of reports having hit the wires lately. Slepak pointed Jobs to a renowned tech-pundit’s impressions, although he missed a followup piece where the blogger further explained why Apple hadn’t done anything wrong. In usual manner, Jobs’ answer was brief and downplaying. “We think John Gruber’s post is very insightful and not negative,” Jobs allegedly said, including a link to the respective post.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Apple-pundit John Gruber, of the Daring Fireball, caught up with the news and felt compelled to calm spirits down, as everyone seemed to be missing the big picture – Apple is protecting the quality of its offerings by restricting development and distribution of apps on the iPhone OS. Softpedia is not suggesting it was singing the same tune, but Gruber, one of the most vocal bloggers on Apple-related topics, is typically accurate in his latest analysis.

“So what Apple does not want is for some other company to establish a de facto standard software platform on top of Cocoa Touch. Not Adobe’s Flash. Not .NET (through MonoTouch). If that were to happen, there’s no lock-in advantage. If, say, a mobile Flash software platform — which encompassed multiple lower-level platforms, running on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry — were established, that app market would not give people a reason to prefer the iPhone,” Gruber explained.

“And, obviously, such a meta-platform would be out of Apple’s control,” he further made his point. “Consider a world where some other company’s cross-platform toolkit proved wildly popular. Then Apple releases major new features to iPhone OS, and that other company’s toolkit is slow to adopt them. At that point, it’s the other company that controls when third-party apps can make use of these features,” Gruber wrote, sharing a visibly more informed opinion. “So from Apple’s perspective, changing the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement to prohibit the use of things like Flash CS5 and MonoTouch to create iPhone apps makes complete sense,” the pundit concluded.

As a bonus for those who follow his blog updates, Gruber went to outline the advantages and the downsides of Apple’s move from various perspectives, including Web developers’, iPhone developers’, other companies’, and eventually end users’. Weighing in on the latter group, he claimed, “This [new] rule should be good for quality. Cross-platform software toolkits have never — ever — produced top-notch native apps for Apple platforms.” Gruber added that there were some rather insignificant downsides, but suggested that iPhone users wouldn’t really feel like they were missing out on anything big.

However, Steve Jobs’ answer to Slepak’s second email is likely the most insightful piece of information in a scenario where many have set out to decipher Apple’s reasons to change the SDK terms a bit, while some curiously poke at the company’s CEO to see what their stance is.

“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,” Steve Jobs said, according to TAO Effect’s CEO.

Go through the links for the full scoop.

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