Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Steve Jobs opinion on Analytics on iPhone

I just watched an interview from D8 in which Steve Jobs answers a question regarding the use of analytics within iPhone apps. You can watch the video yourself here, but the short of it is Steve Jobs said Apple is banning some analytics companies because they are collecting user data without notifying the user first and this is in violation of the developer agreement.

I was very surprised to hear him say this, because I don't believe it to be true. Unless an iPhone developer posts their own EULA for their app, an app is distributed under Apple's default EULA, the terms of which (in the US store) can be read here:

http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html#APPS

And a link to this text appears on the bottom of EVERY iPhone app page (in fine print) within the iTunes app store.

Now, take a close look at this agreement, specifically clause b.

b. Consent to Use of Data: You agree that Licensor may collect and use technical data and related information, including but not limited to technical information about your device, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to you (if any) related to the Licensed Application. Licensor may use this information, as long as it is in a form that does not personally identify you, to improve its products or to provide services or technologies to you.

This seems pretty clear to me that according to this default license agreement for every iPhone app, the potential an app is collecting user data is disclosed and is permitted.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and I'm sure Steve Jobs must have a reason for feeling this clause does not permit analytics within apps. But, at least to a layman such as myself, it seems pretty clear that the standard agreement for an app does in fact allow such capturing of user data and is disclosing to the user (via this license agreement) that such data collection may occur (which in turn meets the conditions of the developer license agreement).

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