A rational perspective on Jobs

Has Steve Jobs gone mad?
[Via Brainstorm Tech]

Or is he trying to ensure that Apple apps continue to “just work?” A guide to the latest flap

Photo: gdgt

The hottest topic in tech these days — and the lead item all weekend in Techmeme — is an obscure clause in Apple’s (AAPL) latest Developer Program License Agreement, the document programmers must conform to if they want to be part of the bonanza that is the iTunes App Store (185,000 apps and counting).

It’s a discussion that echoes complaints about Apple’s essential controlling nature that date back a quarter century to the original Mac and which have returned full-force with the release of the iPad — a device that has been called the Disneyland of Computers, and not in a nice way.

Its outcome could determine whether Apple holds on to the dominant position in smartphone computing it has achieved with the iPhone, or whether the history of Mac vs. PC — in which Microsoft (MSFT) seized control of the desktop and Apple was relegated to the role of a small (albeit highly profitable) also-ran — is about to repeat itself.

Apple didn’t mention the clause at the center of the debate — section 3.3.1 of iPhone OS 4.0 SDK — during its hour-long press preview of the new system software last Thursday, and the clause didn’t come up in the Q. & A. But before the day was out, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, a blogger with close ties to the Apple developer community, had singled it out for closer examination and put his finger on what it means.

What 3.3.1 says is that to be approved for sale on the App Store, programs must be originally written in one of three approved computer languages (C, C++, and Objective-C). It explicitly prohibits apps created with so-called cross-platform interpreters or compilers.

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And the comments are pretty rational also.