7 reasons Apple should open-source Swift -- and 7 reasons it won't

Faster innovation, better security, new markets -- the case for opening Swift might be more compelling than Apple will admit

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Why Apple should open-source Swift: Open source ensures a robust tools ecosystem

If you want to develop for Android, you can use any of the tools from the mostly open source world of Java. Eclipse? Sure. IntelliJ? Sounds good? Ant or Maven from a command line? Many people love them. The list of tools for Java is long and filled with plenty of innovation. And here's one important fact about this list: Sun/Oracle didn't build any of them. Open-sourcing Swift would nurture the developer ecosystem and ensure that developers have many more reasons to choose Swift.

Why Apple won't open-source Swift: Openness is a win for Android

Apple may not sell the most smartphones, but it sells its smartphones to those more likely to buy more apps. Numerous studies show that iPhone users spend much more on apps than the vast hordes of Android purchasers -- and that's why mobile developers target the iPhone first, making the App Store a more robust shopping experience. If developers can push one button and deploy Swift code to both the iPhone and Android marketplaces, Apple could very well lose its dominance over the app world. If people can get the same apps on an expensive iPhone or a cheap Android, the low prices will likely win.

Why Apple should open-source Swift: Apple owes it to open source

Apple didn't accomplish all of Swift's glory on its own. It stood on the shoulders of giants. It's not like Apple built gcc or LLVM itself. The foundation of Swift began in the open source world, and it's only right that Apple return the favor by open-sourcing the results of that work. Apple's open-sourced many of its contributions to BSD through Darwin. Why not more?

Why Apple won't open-source Swift: Apple doesn't owe open source anything

You don't need to make your work open if you build it with an open source tool. Sure, some licenses like the GPL insist you share all of your changes to the tool, but that doesn't extend to something new. Apple built something new on top of an open source base. We've all done the same thing and kept it proprietary. Why can't Apple?

Why Apple should open-source Swift: Swift can be cloned

Microsoft tried to keep .Net on the Windows platform. Then the open source community cloned it. The same can happen to Swift. If someone builds an entirely open package, it could become the dominant version of the language. Programmers could start building to it, then Apple would have no leverage. Open-sourcing Swift from the beginning would allow Apple to defend against the emergence of a legitimate competitor.

Why Apple won't open-source Swift: Who wants a clone?

An iPad may cost $500 or more. A clone running Android can be found on eBay for less than $100. Whose store has long lines and endless waits? Sure, some hackers in some basement can clone most of Swift, but eventually they're going to want to eat and that means getting paying jobs. Until someone steps up with financial support, the clones will remain cool demos, not flourishing stacks. And until people start lining up to buy commodity hardware running open-source Swift, there won't be much financial support.

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This article, "7 reasons Apple should open-source Swift -- and 7 reasons it won’t," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in application development and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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