I don’t speak for IBM and I don’t express opinions of IBM if there ever was such a thing. I spend the last 25 years in the IT industry and I have to say that I have rarely seen such blatant disregard for the freedom of choice as Apple has done in its now infamous Clause 3.3.1 of the Apple iPhone OS SDK License. It reads like this:

Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Apple has mounted a sustained attack on Flash with Steve Jobs pronouncing Flash to be old and buggy technology. Apple absolutely refuses to allow Flash on the iPhone or the iPad. And when Adobe devised a way to still use Flash build tools and package the applications in such a way as not to require Flash on the device, Apple resorted to this, in my opinion, very offensive language which in no uncertain terms dictates exactly which programming languages one can and can not use to create applications for the iPhone or the iPad. I don’t much care for Flash. Much of what is said about it is true. It has become a very large run-time that does drain batteries and may have a ton of other faults. It is likely not the technology of the future and the industry is racing toward HTML 5. But the text of the iPhone OS SDK is not about Flash. It completely removes programmers’ freedom to choose anything but C and C++ as their programming language of choice. Basically, as a programmer, you can’t bring any of your skills to the iPhone platform unless these are C or C++. I do understand Apple’s desire to deliver consistent user experience but this is going way beyond delivering good user experience in my opinion. It is just a blatant attempt to exercise complete unilateral control over every facet of the iPhone/iPad ecosystem. It is sad and ironic that this is coming from a company that introduced Apple Mac with this now infamous “1984” commercial.

It is really sad that Apple is making 2010 in to an Orwellian 1984. The web has been abuzz with discussion on this topic with some of the great zingers coming from Adobe bloggers like this one telling Apple to go “screw itself”. If you have a few hours to kill and don’t want to get an Adobe-flavored discussion you can go here.

What do you think … am I overreacting?

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