NASA appeal reveals iPhone app fine print

Apple's iPhone is worse for innovation and competition than the PC ever was, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has published the iPhone developer contract in full.

The deal, which all uses of the iPhone SDK must sign, has been roundly criticised for being “one-sided”, giving Apple absolute control over an app's chance of success.

The contract says developers may only sell their apps via Apple's App Store, and that Apple can pull the plug on them at any moment, removing the app from sale and remotely disabling it in user devices.

The deal limit's Apple's liability to a measly $50. “If Apple's mobile devices are the future of computing, you can expect that future to be one with more limits on innovation and competition... than the PC era that came before,” the EFF said

Earlier versions of the document have been previously published on sites such as Wikileaks.org. What is notable about the EFF's publication are the lengths it had to go to to do so legally.

The contract forbids publication or public discussion of itself, so the EFF was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act request against an app-making US agency, in this case NASA, in order to have the deal entered into the public record.