Bring AppStore-banned apps to Cydia/Installer.app!
September 15, 2008
Per Nullriver’s own statement, Apple’s final judgement on NetShare is simple: perma-banned from the AppStore. Despite Apple previously publishing the utility and earning money from its sale, Apple pulled NetShare on what we assume are AT&T’s wishes. (NetShare enabled tethering of an iPhone’s data service, such that other computers could utilize the respecive internet service. Such tethering is not allowed per AT&T’s terms of service.)
Apple also recently denied listing Podcaster, an iPhone application designed to update podcasts and simplify their management. Apple’s claim with Podcaster is that it duplicated functionality of iTunes, an Apple product. As John Gruber pointed out, however, Apple had no qualms with publishing applications that duplicate functionality of other Apple products, like calculators, note-taking applications, etc. In other words, Apple seems to have banned an application that “threatens” one of the functions Apple’s flagship software package handles, without adequate explanation.
What’s frustrating about these bans is that Apple hasn’t published a clear-cut guide on what disqualifies an application from being able to be listed in the AppStore. Rather, Apple expects developers to actually develop the application by investing time/money, and then cross their fingers in the hopes that they haven’t angered anyone at 1 Infinite Loop.
We’re somewhat drawn to the analogy of the Microsoft Internet Explorer fiasco from several years ago, because Apple’s lock-down of iPhone development, and the successive AppStore bans thereafter, are no less anti-competitive. That is to say, Microsoft got in trouble because they bundled their web browser with Windows, and didn’t give end-users the option to not use it and install something else instead. Here, we have Apple forcing users to use iTunes to handle all media files on the iPhone, despite not making clear rules for what can and cannot be published on the AppStore. Where’s the friendly, liberal savior of the computing industry that we thought Apple represented?
If anything, hopefully these AppStore bans will urge the respective developers to distribute their applications via Cydia and/or Installer.app. It wouldn’t be the first time that one of these distribution systems sold software for use on jailbroken iPhones, but even if that’s a concern, free distribution will still show Apple that end-users won’t put up with Apple’s totalitarian methods. These AppStore bans are exactly the fuel that the jailbreaking community needs to show certain clowns that jailbreaking is hardly irrelevant, and that iPhone application development should be as open as possible. Suffice to say, as long as Apple keeps up with these hard-handed ways, the market for hacked iPhones won’t go away anytime soon.