The traditional reading of the “private API’s” clause is that it refers to private, undocumented API’s within Apple’s libraries, not to third-party software that is linked in. The first developers on the iPhone were hackers who discovered and advertised all sorts of undocumented API’s that Apple would prefer people didn’t use.
Up until this latest license revision, it has always been an option to ship Python code by bundling it all up within a self-contained application that can be compiled by Xcode–this is, after all, how Adobe had been planning to work around the Flash restriction. Until now.
Clearly the clause does apply to frozen Python applications, because the clause is not restricting the form of the code, but its origin. Only applications that are “originally written” in C, C++, or Objective-C are allowed.
treeform and castironpi bring up the excellent philosophical objections to this overly broad restriction. We could argue for days over precisely what constitutes “originally written”. But none of this matters, because this definition won’t get tested in a court of law: Apple is the sole dictator over what software is released in the app store, and they get to decide whether your software was “originally written” in one of their approved languages or not.
Whether you can hope to slip one over on them and translate Python code into C/C++ anyway, to be compiled by Xcode, is also kind of beside the point. This activity is expressly forbidden, and even if they couldn’t detect it, on some level it’s not legitimate, and we therefore couldn’t advertise that we had a solution for delivering Python applications on the iPhone.
Apple is taking the double-or-nothing gamble: they are forcing developers to develop either only for the iPhone, or only for everything else. They are hoping that they have enough mindshare in this space by now that most developers will decide it’s better to sit on the iPhone side of the fence.
It’s exactly the gamble that worked out so well for Microsoft in the 90’s. And I fear that Apple might be right, and it will work out for them too, as evil as it is.