A reconciling proposal

Some seem to think Apple’s section 3.3.1 is there to ban meta-platforms from iPhone OS. But do Apple want to ban all meta-platforms? Or do they just want to avoid meta-platforms that would put some other vendor in control? Those two things are very different, and the later is much more reasonable. If the fear is that Apple could become dependent on some other vendor (such as Adobe), they could do a much better job at writing the terms of the agreement…

I think Apple should just force any such translation layer or interpreter used in an application to be publicly available as open-source. If one such meta-platform ever becomes a problem, it’s easy for Apple to investigate the problem, and they can even release a fixed version themselves. It doesn’t solve all the problems people have with rule 3.3.1, but at least it’s not an outright ban of technology, and it even promotes sharing your building blocks with other developers (a good thing for the platform if you ask me).

And if that puts pressure on Adobe to release Flash as open-source, I’ll just say great!

Banning technology is regressive. Banning certain undesirable uses of technology (like lock-ins) is harder to argue with. I hope Apple take notice.




Open sourcing meta-platforms doesn’t address the fundamental reason behind the meta-platform ban. The meta-platform ban is there to remove the development cost advantages of lowest common denominator development.


This already exists. It’s called “The C Language”. It’s cross-platform.

There are apps on my iPhone that were written before iPhone even existed. They were written in whatever tool the developer preferred, on whatever computing platform they preferred. All Apple asked the developer to do to get on iPhone was load their code into Xcode, make a few iPhone-specific parts, and compile into a native iPhone app.

I have Doom on my iPhone, from DOS. I have Pac-Man, from the arcade. These apps were written a decade or more before iPhone even existed, with whatever tools the developer wanted to use. When there is another mobile with C apps, there will be iPhone apps easily ported there.

Is it hard to use Apple’s C tools? Ask the physicist who used them to create the World Wide Web in 1990.

And speaking of the Web, the iPhone’s other app platform is HTML5. If you want to write once, run everywhere (like Flash promises but cannot deliver) or write JavaScript (like Flash) then you can do that also. There is nothing stopping Adobe from updating their Flash Web app tool so that their Web app developers can export standard Web apps to run on iPhone and all mobiles. All the Flash stuff can come into the future like all Web content: via HTML5.

In short: iPhone apps are already cross-platform. They’re already fast and easy to make. Developers can already use whatever tools they want. iPhone apps are working, they are not broken.

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