Apple Now Banning Potentially Competitive Apps From The iPhone

from the pissing-off-developers dept

Yet another day and yet another odd attempt by Apple to arbitrarily control what's in the App Store for the iPhone. A bunch of folks have submitted the news of a podcasting app that's been blocked because Apple claims it competes with iTunes. This should, of course, scare of iPhone developers even more than previous bans. After all, it means that should an app get particularly popular, Apple would most likely just create its own competing version and remove the popular app from the store.

While some are decrying this as being an abuse of power, Apple certainly has the right to do it. It's just not a particularly good long term strategy -- and likely to backfire badly. Pissing off your developers or making them worry isn't going to get very many good apps written going forward. Also, limiting competition is actually going to hurt Apple, because it no longer has anyone driving them to be better. What if this podcasting app had certain features that were really cool and useful -- and not available in iTunes? Right now, Apple has no incentive to include that functionality, thus making its own software worse.

In the meantime, you've got to imagine that a number of iPhone developers may be eagerly awaiting the launch of Google's Android platform which won't have such arbitrary restrictions.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:44pm

    Once again you expect them to change for what reason? Because you complained on your blog about this before? Makes sense.

     

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  2.  
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    Consider the Lobster, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:54pm

    Who owns what rights?

    This further makes me skeptical of Apple's intentions.

    Has anyone read the Ts&Cs for developers? It would be interesting to know who claims ownership to 3rd party runtime code developed for iPhone.

    If people could develop the newest, coolest iPhone app until they are blue in the face, but if it can't be deployed, or killed in the field it creates a lovely situation!

    Last think I'd like to do is spend 6 months of my life learning a new OS and XCode, to create a new whiz-bang app only to have it killed because some better funded company that inked a partnership with Apple months or years ago behind closed doors.

     

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  3.  
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    Erik, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

    They Should Be Smarter Than This

    Apple should know better than to almost arbitrarily remove apps and disgruntle developers. As you write, it is long term stupid. I hope the App Store vetting process becomes a lot more transparent and a whole lot less capricious.

     

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  4.  
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    Rajio, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    More of the same

    This behaviour is old hat for apple. I dont see why any of you expect anything different than business as usual from them. It's just more of the same and if you didn't see it coming, you're not well versed in their history.

     

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  5.  
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    Pedro Mack, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    Where in the post does it mention that anyone expects them to change? It simply states the reasons that this particular behavior should change, for Apple's own good.

     

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  6.  
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    Khyle, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    Not buying it

    I feel bad for the developer. But audio distribution is a core component of the whole Apple paradigm. Allowing podcast distribution is a heartbeat away from allowing alternative stores. Who's to say you couldn't use an app like that to distribute music, bypassing iTunes? Apple built the ecosystem here, and now they're protecting their interest. It's not like they're cutting off all podcasting apps. This is a pretty weak slippery slope argument in my opinion.

     

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  7.  
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    LDøBë, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 3:06pm

    Better?

    You know this is just another example of the "Worse is better" marketing/coding strategy. The less useful and desirable features you let the customer have, the more amazed they are when you give them new, poorly made software with only a few new bad features. And when you control exactly what a user has available, you can keep them loyal by promising them things like shinier UIs, and things like that.

     

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  8.  
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    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Sep 15th, 2008 @ 3:17pm

    I *hope* Android won't have those problems...

    The actual marketing of Android apps hasn't really started yet, and the developers have been a little disappointed in how slowly the SDK is coming along.

    Yeah, I hope Android is better. I signed up as an iPhone developer, but I have pretty much lost interest. I was initially enthusiastic about the iPhone, but it slowly dawned on me that the one app I use the most on the iPhone, namely email, is generally done much better on other platforms, and I'm probably going to switch when my current contract is up. The iPhone is sorta neat in some ways, but not sufficiently neat to stand in line for, much less camp out all night.

    That said, I'm not going to sign on as an Android developer until I can actually buy and use an Android-based phone, and decide if it's good enough to warrant my attention.
    --
    Texas certified Concealed Handgun License Instructor
    http://www.chl-tx.com

     

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  9.  
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    Dosquatch, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    just another

     

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  10.  
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    Michael Long, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 3:19pm

    Against terms...

    The developer is acting like this is a surprise, and it's not. Apple's developer agreement clearly states that developers may NOT create applications that setup competing distribution systems (iTunes).

    "Without Apple’s prior written approval, an Application may not provide, unlock or enable additional features or functionality through distribution mechanisms other than the iTunes Store."

     

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  11.  
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    Dosquatch, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 3:20pm

    just another

    Just another bad decision, just another example, just another hiccup, just another just another....

    Just another reason I won't own an iPhone.

     

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  12.  
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    neil, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 4:55pm

    "While some are decrying this as being an abuse of power, Apple certainly has the right to do it".

    and microsoft cant install media player by default? tell me how this is not a double standard.

     

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  13.  
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    reed, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 5:29pm

    Comparison

    "and microsoft cant install media player by default? tell me how this is not a double standard."

    Strange, last time I checked XP and Vista have media player by default.

    In this case Apple is banning an Application that duplicates Itunes features. It would be like MS saying you can't install VLC because it competes with media player.

    And for the record MS has done far more to slow down IT development than MAC. But then again, it is kinda like comparing butterflies to apples isn't it?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 6:44pm

    OS X?

    I wonder how long it will be before Apple applies this to desktop systems as well. File sharing? No way, it competes with iTunes on OS X.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2008 @ 7:05pm

    Also, limiting competition is actually going to hurt Apple, because it no longer has anyone driving them to be better.


    What? Im sure that many companies would love to have no competition in their market. I can't believe a company would think "man, I wish we had some competition to eat into our bottom line, we are making too much money"

    Limiting competition doesnt hurt Apple, it hurts the consumer.

     

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  16.  
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    neil, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 12:02am

    Re: Comparison

    for the record MS built the IT market. yes at some point the sails on a ship will slow it down, but don't get rid of them until somthing proven can replace them.

     

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  17.  
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    Andrew, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 1:02am

    Android will have similar restrictions

    Have you actually looked at the Android SDK? It will have similar restrictions. Just try replacing Google's Maps service with a better one...

     

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  18.  
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    Kontra, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 1:19am

    "Some developers demand Apple try to communicate better, lest they assume the worst of the platform vendor. While that sounds plenty reasonable at face value, given the curatorial demands on the fledgling state of the App Store platform and Apple's overall reliance on product-plan secrecy, we shouldn't realistically expect Apple to 'open up' anytime soon," as I explain in: Resolved: Apple is right to curate the App Store

     

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  19.  
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    Twinrova, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 4:17am

    Suckers!!!

    "Apple certainly has the right to do it."

    This is the "Captain Obvious" statement of the day. Apple has the right to bilk its customers over 300% markup of its products. Apple has the right to bed with a specific phone carrier known to have issues of its own. Apple has the right to make annoying commercials.

    So it shouldn't surprise anyone Apple has the right to steal ideas from others, call it their own, and kick the crap out of the developer in doing so.

    A bunch of fools and their money are soon parted.

    I feel no pity on anyone who chooses Apple products.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Bill, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Jailbreak

    This is why it is a bad idea for Apple to do this, as has happened with many banned apps, they just offer them to people who have jailbroken their iPhones and the people who want the app can get them that way. All this does is drive more people to want to Jailbreak their phone. Someday these companies will learn that people want to do whatever they want with their devices and will do whatever it takes to be able to do so. I have jailbroken my phone and so far I have the application that lets you tether to your laptop and I am sure I will be able to get this podcasting app pretty soon as well. Thanks Apple...

     

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  21.  
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    hegemon13, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Re:

    Because Apple doesn't have a monopoly on the phone market. Monopolies are held to a different standard.

    Not to mention, Microsoft does install WMP by default, so I am not really sure what you mean by this.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Bill, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    @Reed

    Reed,

    What you are saying is not the same thing. MS installing Media Player by default and Apple not allow you to install a product that competes with theirs is apple to oranges. I can still install another application and never use WMP if I want, Apple is preventing you from having that choice. That is what everyone is upset about here, If I choose to use iTunes fine, but we should be able to use another product that has better features if we choose to and not have Apple ban it because it does similar things to their software. If MS said you couldn't install Winamp because it competes with WMP what would happen? The world would explode. Stop letting Apple off the hook people...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Say What!, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Re: Comparison

    "And for the record MS has done far more to slow down IT development than MAC."

    Really? I have yet to see a migration of developers away from the Windows platform to Mac. Usually it is the other way around (I went from Mac to Win for other reasons, but MS is less restrictive and far more open that Apple).

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Say What!, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Re: Comparison

    "And for the record MS has done far more to slow down IT development than MAC."

    Really? I have yet to see a migration of developers away from the Windows platform to Mac. Usually it is the other way around (I went from Mac to Win for other reasons, but MS is less restrictive and far more open that Apple).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    nasch, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    In the short term that's true. But Apple is not in a position to eliminate all their competition, so if their product stagnates, they're more vulnerable to someone else making a strongly competitive product/service and REALLY eating into their revenues. It might be better to have some small-scale competition now that's still within your own service offering, so you can see what your customers really want and then make sure they get it from you rather than someone else. Because they're going to get it from someone eventually.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re: Better?

    Hey, the "I Am Rich" app sold for $1000 and it didn't do anything. I think you're on to something here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Re: Against terms...

    I don't think podcasts count as "additional features or functionality."

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    neil, Sep 16th, 2008 @ 11:15am

    Re: Re:

    ms is not allowed to instal wmp in the uk by default read the laws buddy

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    David Gerard, Sep 20th, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    Even their evil is better

    Microsoft is really losing it in the evil stakes these days. They used to be really good at evil. Now Apple is kicking their backsides for evil. When Steve Jobs goes "MuWAAAhahahaha!", the brainwashed minions listen. His henchmen are really loyal, not just getting paid to be. Poor Ballmer.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anon, Sep 23rd, 2008 @ 8:47pm

    Banning potential users, too

    I was attending a conference where Apple introduced its own products. The Apple engineer started by saying we shouldn't take pictures or notes 'coz the info he was gonna tell us was under "confidentiality" (which we didn't know about nor signed at all). Why the hell did he even bother giving a talk if he wasn't gonna tell us something we can't tell others about? This kind of attitude just goes to show that Apple treats third-party developers as second-class citizens, beggars waiting for crumbs from their platform.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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