John Gruber on the Apple licensing changes:

“…such a meta-platform would be out of Apple’s control. Consider a world where some other company’s cross-platform toolkit proved wildly popular. Then Apple releases major new features to iPhone OS, and that other company’s toolkit is slow to adopt them. At that point, it’s the other company that controls when third-party apps can make use of these features.”

The problem with that argument is that the choice of API adoption, or platform adoption for that matter, is really already out of Apple’s control; Adoption is the choice of the developer, although Apple can clearly veto that choice during the app store approval process. The only thing Apple can do is make the APIs and platforms attractive as possible so people choose to use it.

Software engineers have known for decades that abstractions, libraries, utilities and OSes themselves distance them from the system below that abstraction. Sometimes this is a benefit, sometimes it is a liability, and that’s understood. Apple need not play overly protective parent, just let free market economics work it out; If the apps depending on 3rd party APIs take longer to update because of the dependency, well, that’s the price they presumably pay to get the other benefits the 3rd party provides.

Let’s push the argument all the way, let say someone develops something like Google Web Toolkit, but for the iPhone/iPod/iPad OS and APIs. An intermediate tool that rewrites code, let’s say “originally” written in Objective-C, to be more efficient. Now using that tool is banned because  it falls into this category: “Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation”

That would be a loss for Apple, a loss for the developers, and a loss for the users.