My Comment on Yet Another O'Reilly iPhone Post

I just left a comment over on the O'Reilly Radar, on a post titled "Getting the iPhone Open Source Tool Chain Up and Running".


I completely understand that you guys have an iPhone Hacks book to hawk, but honestly, your continued promotion of developing for the iPhone using unofficial APIs is harming other TRULY OPEN projects more worthy of finite developer time like Maemo, OpenMoko or even Android.

Instead of encouraging your readers to break the law (the DMCA however loathsome covers the sort of stuff you have to do to get code running on the iPhone), I wish you'd recognize that Apple doesn't deserve this sort of attention from you or developers. Apple has decided to keep their device - however cool and interesting - to themselves and sandboxed developers out of doing innovative things. That's their choice, and they should suffer the consequences of it.

Why in the world would you want O'Reilly readers creating new apps on a proprietary platform they have zero control over? Especially from a company that is a litigious and duplicitous as Apple - they've shown quite well in the past that they consider any innovations on their platform to be theirs for the copying (Konfabulator, Watson). The iPhone hacker API is not "open" (calling it so is duplicitous at best) and is viable only as long as Apple's famously vicious lawyers continue to ignore it. As soon as it becomes inconvenient for them, look for the sites and developers supporting those APIs to be ThinkSecreted immediately.

The iPhone is only ONE of the important new platforms on the market today. I would hope that a company like O'Reilly that has made its reputation supporting Open Source projects would recognize the problems with your current enthusiasm for the iPhone and re-think your constant drumbeat of attention you personally and the O'Reilly organization has lavished on it.



I probably should just give up this sort of thing, I know... everyone loves Apple and everyone loves Google (for example) and I should just give it up and save myself the ulcer. But honestly, it drives me absolutely crazy how some organizations just seem to get a free pass. In this instance Apple has been about as developer hostile as possible, and yet O'Reilly continues to promote development for the iPhone, despite the fact that other platforms are dying for developer attention - the most important of course being my pet favorite Maemo, which is based on an Open OS and a familiar development platform and is JUST as innovative as the iPhone in many ways (and pre-dated it by 2 years no less).

I have an iPhone in my pocket - it's a great device and I love what it's done for the focus on mobility in general - but if Apple wants to keep maniacal control over their device and not open their platform, then screw them. It's as simple as that. Developers should be encouraged to put their time and effort into other more deserving platforms, not encouraged to join the mindless zealots who seem to love being abused by Apple year after year because the stuff they make is shiny.

As much as O'Reilly just follows the alpha geeks, they also set the tone for thousands of other developers as well, leading the developer market as much as they respond to it. I would hope they would take that leadership position a bit more responsibly.


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