Apple’s App Store, which sells programs for its iPhone and iPod Touch, has been declared an instant success, with over 10 million downloads of the over 500 applications available on site. Part of the charm of the system was that it allowed independent developers freedom to get in the sandbox and build something. Many hoped this was a sign that Apple was finally relaxing its tight closed-box policies that allowed Windows computers to surpass Macs in the first place.
However, confirmation from Apple that there was a “kill switch” built in, which could be used to remotely disable users applications. In Apple’s original statements, it promised to use to weed out programs that violated Apple’s terms of service, which it said consisted of abusive and inappropriate applications.
While some rejected applications, such as the short lived “Whoopie Cushion” app, could be construed to be offensive or have the potential for abuse, Apple has issued many more rejections to companies with legitimate products that might outcompete Apple’s own software offerings.
For example, most recently a developer created a new app called Podcaster. This application allows users to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly from an iPhone or iPod touch. The application was unceremoniously rejected, which led the irritated developer to publish the letter of rejection. The rejection states:
Apple Rep says: Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.
Such a draconian policy is tough on developers, not just because it limits them, but because it breeds an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, in which there well-intentioned application might be rejected for unconsidered violations. States iPhone developer DaringFireball on the issue, “If you only find out at the end of the development process that your app has been rejected — not for a technical problem that you can address but because Apple deems the entire concept to be out of bounds — then who is going to put serious time and talent into an iPhone app?”
Fraser Speirs, another loyal Apple developer, is so outraged he quit new development for the app store and is leading a push among developers to force Apple to adopt policy changes. Among his demands are clear exclusion rules, an App Store evangelist, and the ability to get pre-authorized before application development.
Developers who made $30M USD in application revenue for Apple in July are starting to feel like Apple just doesn’t care. In the end, Mr. Speirs and other developers investing their time and money into applications development agree — Apple must show its intent to change to its developers or risk losing them.
Outrage from even the staunchest supporters within the Mac community has been quite fierce – a Mac Rumors thread on the topic has garnered 17 pages of responses.
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