I’m a developer or at least I have a developer account that is used to submit the everythingiCafe app to the App Store. I’m also a tech blogger who covers Apple. The lines between those two started blurring within the blogosphere a long time ago. Apple’s Developer program, priced at just $99 per year, allows developers the ability to download the latest beta versions of iOS. When you do so, you must agree to a lengthy non-disclosure agreement or NDA. The NDA effectively means that you shouldn’t discuss any aspects of the software you’ve just downloaded. Remember, the reason for downloading the software is to be able to test your applications with the new version of iOS. There have been rampant abuses of the NDA since last year. The level at which it is being disregarded has reached epic proportions. So why is Apple allowing so many to have blatant disregard for their contracts?
People want as much information as they can get about the latest version of iOS. That’s only natural. New software is almost like having a new phone. iOS 5 offers a vast number of new features that dramatically changes the way we’ll use an iPhone. With the emphasis from WWDC being strictly on software, there is even a greater demand for information, beyond what is available on Apple’s site.
Technology bloggers are in the business of providing the latest information about new operating systems and hardware. Outside of the found iPhone 4 prototype, it’s virtually impossible for bloggers to get a hold of unreleased hardware. Software, that’s easy. All it takes is $99 and one’s willingness to install beta software on their iPhone. If you post information about Apple’s new version of iOS, you will see an increase in site traffic. Video walkthroughs will boost views on YouTube and increase subscribers. Visitors are happy and site owners are even more happy. Increased pageviews means more advertising revenue. Seems to be a win, win if it weren’t for that pesky NDA.
Most companies would cringe at the thought of beta software entering the public realm. Apple doesn’t seem bothered. Perhaps they want the added exposure. Perhaps they feel confident that iOS, even it’s beta stage, is not going to reveal anything that would cause concern among those planning to upgrade. These reveals often show features that don’t end up being in the final product. Remember gestures?
As far as Apple is concerned, it’s all good. If that’s the case, then it’s time for Apple to drop the iOS NDA on beta software. Their inaction and indifference seems to indicate to many, including MacWorld’s Jason Snell that the NDA is completely dead. All that’s left is for Apple to remove the rotting corpse that was once a non-disclosure agreement.