Computerworld’s Sharon Machlis: your agency should STOP developing iPhone apps

From “It’s time to end government-funded iPhone apps (and curb Apple’s control-freak tendencies)” by Sharon Machlis from Computerworld:

“There was enough flaming to grill a steak after I suggested that Apple gets away with things that Microsoft could never do. A lot of the complaints were about the specifics of the Apple vs. Palm iTunes turf-war…My point was that if Microsoft openly sought similar strict control over how, say, software interacted with its Office suite, the complaining would be far more intense.

“Now we’ve got Apple’s Developer License Agreement with terms so controlling that developers must seek prior approval from Apple before even commenting on the license itself. We only know this because the Electronic Frontier Foundation snared a copy from NASA via a Freedom of Information Act request (view PDF on the EFF site. Apparently, federal law still trumps Apple’s corporate attempts at secrecy. At least for now.

“I’ve never been comfortable with government-sponsored applications on the iPhone, but this is the last straw. Should taxpayer money really be supporting development on a platform where parties can’t even talk about the relationship between a government entity and its technology partner? What is this, the spy satellite program?


“In Boston, iPhone owners can easily report problems to the city government — more easily than anyone else, including those with other mobile devices. But should government money really be used to create applications that are only available to those willing to buy an iPhone and pay a monthly fee to AT&T? Should taxpayer money help decide the winner in the current battle between smartphone platforms? Especially when Apple reserves the right to revoke application distribution at any time simply if they determine that there has been a violation of ‘any term or condition’ of the license? Thus potentially sending hours of government development work down the drain?”

Sharon joined me on the show today to talk about her piece, and her thoughts about where government entities should – and shouldn’t – go in the app world.