Apologies - and please skip to the next post if this is inappropriate in length!
Just some thoughts on Apple, UT and development:
Apple offers a publishing service - when you sign up, you sign up for the current terms - when they give notice of a change of terms, you have to determine whether the service still makes sense for you, and then whether to sign up for the new terms, or not.
If Apple offers new service terms that are unappealing to many of their existing customers, they will damage their business. On the other hand, if they offer new terms that reflect changes in their publishing service that benefit their existing and potential customers, they may improve business for themselves and all their customers.
In this case, very little is known for certain about the change in the publishing service that may be imminent - only speculation based on the TOS change and some historic parallels that may or may not be pertinent. Many on these forums feel squeezed by a ‘battle of the titans’ story where indie developers are suffering as collateral damage to a conflict between Apple and Adobe.
Outside these forums, the Apple-Adobe conflict has been widely discussed, and events have shown that this may be an important aspect of the story - but even Adobe are small compared to Apple or to the growing size of the mobile computing market, and they may just be symptoms and collateral damage of a larger set of market forces, not least the rift with Google.
Some speculations have focused on the iPad/A4 custom chip aspect of the story. The argument is that A4 may not be an ARM-based design, and that truly native applications will be required to differentiate Apple’s performance in responsiveness, and battery life, as mobile platforms go head to head in the next few months/years. If this is so, UT have to be clear whether this Apple advantage is real, and if it is good for their customers and themselves. If UT conclude that the Apple publishing model/future is a significant sector of the market, they may have to slow down the movement towards the all-in-one IDE platform with convergence between the Unity and Unity iPhone branches. This does not necessarily rule out a convergence at some point in the future. Nor does it imply a wasted investment, as staying at the forefront of this massively expanding mobile industry is going to be well-rewarded into the foreseeable future.
Over the long term, it has to be a good thing for all of us - as customers who may be consumers of their publishing service or end-users of the published products - that multiple viable market channels emerge where there can be cost competition, quality competition and innovation competition. We have to expect that each of these channels will find their place in the overall market by balancing their commitment to each of these competition modes differently - and that, over time, some will drift from one orientation towards another, and suffer changes in their reputation.
Indie developers will likely look for the channels that tend towards low cost access, variable pricing and good reputational exposure based on low-key marketing. Established developers - even long time indies - will likely look for exclusive access, regulated pricing and brand prominence assured by strong marketing. This means that we need Apple, Android and other channels too.
It seems that Apple are positioning themselves to lead the market by offering quality/performance for premium prices rather than by novelty/volume as they did when they had the advantage as first movers - I imagine Apple have not forgotten the moment in their history when they gave away the high-margin end of the business to Mac clones and were left with only low-margins to support their R&D. I don’t imagine they will be wanting to repeat that race to the bottom - and, from what I hear on these forums, neither will UT or its developer customers. In the short term, this change in Apple’s posture may not be as comfortable for un-established developers as for well-established ones.
I would guess that Apple made their pitch to UT about their ongoing publishing model and why it would be good for UT to exploit it even though it requires UT to adapt its business/engineering plans - it is very unlikely that Apple want to reduce the quality of goods in their store. (Surprisingly, I rather imagine that it was Apple pitching to UT rather than UT pleading with Apple - one day it would be nice if David H was able to fill us in on the flavor of these discussions.)
If UT conclude Apple’s pitch is real, the question is not whether to walk away, but rather, how to manage the disruption to their own development plans, and to the development process enjoyed by their users. This is straightforward engineering thinking, and it takes time to work out the best path forward - announcing half-thought out plans will only be more de-stabilizing for UT and their users, and asking for patience is clearly the only reasonable way to proceed.
There is a chance that the outcome of this disturbance will be a UT route into the Apple eco-system that is even more powerful and advantageous to everyone here.