Facebook’s Joe Hewitt Quits iPhone App Development Due to Frustration with Apple

Joe Hewitt, who came over to Facebook along with Blake Ross when Facebook acquired their company Parakey in 2007, has been the sole developer on Facebook’s iPhone efforts since the beginning. That’s for both the web-based version that came out in 2007 and the the native application that was launched last year. However, today, Hewitt tweeted that he has “handed the Facebook iPhone app off to another engineer, and I’m onto a new project.”

Why would Hewitt quit work on what has become the most widely used iPhone application ever, and the most popular mobile Facebook client? Issues with the way Apple is running its platform. As Hewitt told TechCrunch,

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.”

It will be interesting to see how Hewitt’s transition affects Facebook iPhone app, if at all. 8.3 million people used Facebook for iPhone yesterday out of 17.3 million people in the last month, according to AppData.