iPhone Devs Find NDA Workaround

by , 8:25 AM EDT, August 27th, 2008

iPhone and iPod touch developers are bound by a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits them from sharing tips and ideas with each other, so the resourceful coders found a work-around: they are subcontracting with each other. The subcontracting fee is typically US$1, and it opens a loophole that lets developers talk with each other about iPhone coding, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, that iPhone developers are bound to prohibits them from discussing how they design their applications and from sharing coding techniques. Those restrictions are typically lifted once the product the NDA protects is officially launched, but in this case Apple chose to leave the restrictions in place.

The end result is that developers are left in isolation with only their own coding experiences to learn from, and those that have valuable experiences to share can't share that information with anyone else. The workaround apparently involves paying each other to subcontract on projects.

While developers may have found a limited way to work around the NDA restrictions, that doesn't help with other information resources that coders typically rely on including books, user groups, conferences and online forums. It also means that most iPhone developers are working on their own because they don't have anyone to turn to for help.

"Ultimately, consumers are suffering here," said Pragmatic Programmers founder Dave Thomas. "We're seeing some bad applications on the iPhone. It's stifling innovation."

Apple hasn't said why the NDA is still in place even after the iPhone 3G and the iPhone Software Developer Kit have hit the streets. The company also hasn't given any hints as to when the NDA might be lifted, so developers may be left in their information vacuum for some time to come.