Just a quick post, a thought/question that I wanted to share.. if Apple doesn’t allow complete programmer control over what gets sold at the app store (read as app approval), what are the options to sell or open source the xcode projects that end users can build themselves?

The issue of course is that it’s not for everyone, it DOES require the purchase of an iPhone developer account at .. maybe £60 a year, and a certain minimal degree of technical knowledge, but surely, everything costs money, and it’s a small price to pay to get around the issues of distribution and allow an open community.

The free vs freedom issue is not always about money. I’m not an expert at software licensing by any standards, but to my understanding, GPL even allows you to sell products based on open code (there’s a market in selling wordpress/drupal/magento etc. themes for example).

So the proposal would be, the ‘customer’ gets an ADC membership from Apple, and then purchases a “developer licence” of the software that they want to install (an example would be licensing Unreal engine for your own uses), or a more simple way to put it would be selling just source code and associated resources to hack/build. With an iPhone ADC membership you can install applications that you build onto a physical device.

Perhaps this opens the door for a marketplace of source code that is either completely open, or sold in some way. There may not be any way to protect your code as it could no doubt end up downloadable from elsewhere, and any kind of DRM would be in the source to remove as the user sees fit, but as such that is not the purpose of this suggestion. The complaint seems to be that community build projects are not possible without jailbreaking, or that selling apps past the app store is not possible.. if you have a project and the right version of xcode, it’s pretty much as simple as opening it and hitting run to get it on the simulator, or a not much more involved build process to get it on the actual device.

I’m not sure how the ADC Terms and Conditions go, perhaps by distributing an app outside of the iTunes App store in any form is prohibited, and since I don’t make software as such this is not really something that bothers me personally, but it seems to be a major argument developers have about the problems of a closed platform..

With an associated cost of £60 a year for ADC membership, open source kids might find it upsetting that you have to pay for the privilege of installing an app that you either have to pay for separately, or even for the tools to do so, but paying for tools is fairly normal outside the minority that are purely running free. Even using Linux and all the free software you’re still paying for the hardware, and I’d imagine a good chunk of the cost is related to patent licensing of manufacture and such (the cost of an Intel chip is surely not pure manufacturing and distribution, and anyone that thinks so is not thinking hard enough). Could it be a reasonable alternative to whining about your app being completely at the mercy of the app store approval team?

Just a thought…


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