Apple changes rules on iPhone app analytics

The latest version of Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement startled app developers last week, when they found a new section that appears to ban apps converted from Flash to iPhone format. Over the weekend, developers tried to make sense of yet another change to the Developer Agreement that appears to possibly ban third-party analytics tools such as Flurry, Distimo and Motally that track and report how an app is used by customers:

Device Data may not be provided or disclosed to a third party without Apple’s prior written consent. Accordingly, the use of third party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.

What’s the “device data” that can’t be disclosed any more? None of the app analytics companies I talked to had a sure answer. None have had any contact with Apple on the topic. But they agreed that shutting down analytics tools would put off app developers, rather than attract more of them.

“The Distimo Monitor service does not rely on a third party API as outlined in the new iPhone developer agreement, and is therefore not impacted by it,” wrote a spokeswoman for Dutch analystics firm Distimo. “We do not expect Apple to ban analytics parties that in fact work with an API, as long as Apple does not provide in-app analytics themselves. There is a strong market demand among developers for high quality analytics on their application’s performance.”

“We are seeking clarification from Apple on this language,” said Flurry VP of marketing Peter Farago.  “We believe this language will cause analytics companies and ad networks to change the way they collect some data. The main issues appear to be around device data collection.” Exactly. Dear Apple, can you please tell us what you mean?

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