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iPhone developers are becoming alarmed with Apple's closed box policy

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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RE: Why does..
By the goat on 9/15/2008 12:39:52 PM , Rating: -1
Microsoft get so much resentment for including and making IE the default browser, and even allows 3rd party browsers to install. But Apple can deny app's on their Iphone becasue it is considered competition? How can Symantec take Microsoft to court over the vista kernel, and this behavior from apple is considered just? Someone tell me why this should not go to court?

MS Windows is promoted as a general purpose operating system. It is implied that the user has the freedom to install and/or develop any application they choose (though MS has started laying the ground work to remove these abilities)

iphone OS is promoted as closed software for a restricted number of hardware devices. Apple never implied that you would be allowed to use iphone OS for anything that they did not approve of.

RE: Why does..
By the goat on 9/15/2008 12:41:13 PM , Rating: 1
P.S. my post is not designed to defend Apple or MS. Personally I hate them both.

RE: Why does..
By 306maxi on 9/15/08, Rating: -1
RE: Why does..
By the goat on 9/15/2008 1:05:41 PM , Rating: 1
Since when has the iPhone OS been promoted as a closed OS? The Apple ads have said a lot of different things but nothing about it having a closed OS. That's a crock of poop.

I would love for you to post an example ad where Apple says (or even remotely implies) they provide an open platform.

RE: Why does..
By JasonMick on 9/15/2008 1:26:51 PM , Rating: 5
You're both right...

The Apple ads neither imply that its an open platform, nor do they promote it as a closed OS.

Rather they make sweeping statements like the App store makes it the "funnest" phone/iPod ever or show iPods playing all sorts of applications.

Is a closed platform the "funnest" one ever? Is a bunch of selected applications, trying to fool customers into thinking the iPhone is the equivalent of a personal computer in terms of software?? Its all very ambiguous, and depends on who you ask.

Really if you think of its thats the genius of the Apple commercials... they're not factual and don't make any fallacious statements that they can be nailed down on, namely they simply emotionally praise Apple products and admonish competitors products and features in equally emotional terms. Sure they might say the Windows crashed, but they give no details about how it crashed just that windows is "depressed that he crashed". Genius (or diabolical) advertising!

RE: Why does..
RE: Why does..
By 306maxi on 9/15/2008 9:04:06 PM , Rating: 1
I never said they promoted it as being an open OS. You were the one who said they promote it as being a closed OS which is clearly not the case!

RE: Why does..
By inighthawki on 9/15/2008 9:49:38 PM , Rating: 5
"(though MS has started laying the ground work to remove these abilities)"

Can you explain to me how that is true in ANY aspect? Over the past couple years, MS has made numerous releases that target mroe and more developers to make their own stuff, including, and very importantly, FREE versions of visual studio, intended to give new-comers the ability to start programming. Making IE the default browser because they made it, or WMP11 the default media player because they made it, doesn't mean they are trying to get people to hate everything else. As with every other software company, they keepimproving their software, and want more people to use what it has to offer. Many people would GROAN about not having such stuff preinstalled.

And what does that say about apple? safari? itunes? last i checked, that software, among a lot of other software, comes preinstalled in the OS. Should we file anti-trust regulation because they include this stuff and make it harder to developers to program for their OS? They have less browser and media player options than on windows, yet bundling this software is considered a perfectly OK practice.

People need to get their heads where they belong...

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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