Facebook iPhone Dev Quits Project Over Apple Tyranny

“My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies.” – Joe Hewitt

Facebook developer Joe Hewitt, the man behind the immensely popular Facebook application for iPhone, has just tweeted that he’s done with the project:

“Time for me to try something new. I’ve handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.”

We reached out to Hewitt for more details, and he attributed his decision to quit the project entirely on Apple’s tyrannical App Store approval policies:

My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies. I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process. I am very concerned that they are setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms, and soon gatekeepers will start infesting the lives of every software developer.

The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.”

I couldn’t agree with Hewitt’s sentiments more, and it’s a breath of fresh air to see such a prominent developer quit the App Store. Apple has built some truly fantastic products, but their approach to the App Store is frightening — especially given the fact that other platforms may see the iPhone’s success and start adopting a similar model.

Hewitt’s move is a big deal, because he has essentially been the one-man show behind the iPhone’s most popular application of all time. Hewitt has been quite vocal about his opposition to Apple’s ridiculous App Store approval policies — in a post last August, he wrote that “the review process needs to be eliminated completely.” And to be clear, Hewitt is still at Facebook, though he can’t talk about the next project he’s working on.

Be sure to check out our TalkCrunch interview with Hewitt back in 2007, back when he had just launched the social network’s iPhone web app (note that the native iPhone app wasn’t released until summer 2008).

Hewitt joined Facebook in 2007 when it acquired Parakey, the company he co-founded with Blake Ross. Hewitt is also known for helping create the Firefox web browser as well as the popular Firebug development plugin.