Print 80 comment(s) - last by Gzus666.. on Sep 17 at 12:39 PM

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: Monopoly?
By Spivonious on 9/15/2008 12:54:35 PM , Rating: 2
MS is the only one providing desktop OSes?

RE: Monopoly?
By Hare on 9/15/2008 1:53:56 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously no, but they have a huge market share and can use their position to do pretty much what they want. Think about it this way, a consumer goes to a computer store and wants to buy a computer. Basically he will be offered different boxes all running Windows -> choices are quite limited.

Of course there are Macs and Linux boxes but for many they aren't really alternatives.

RE: Monopoly?
By Spivonious on 9/15/2008 4:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
So get upset at the software vendors who aren't creating Mac/Linux software. Microsoft is not responsible for the lack of applications on other OSes.

RE: Monopoly?
By Gzus666 on 9/15/2008 4:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, they seem to be, that's why they get sued for it often. A standard should be followed, just like they do with everything else in computing. They have standard network protocols, they have standard hardware, etc. This works out better for the customer in the end, as interoperability is there. Although, by force, they are getting better about this.

RE: Monopoly?
By Spivonious on 9/16/2008 3:28:06 PM , Rating: 2
Windows lets developers use the standard networking protocols. I'm not sure what you mean by standard hardware.

To suggest that every OS should have the same API (which seems to be what you're implying) is just silly. Every OS does things in a different way, and trying to tie all of those together with some sort of standard OS API (approved by IEEE?) is just not feasible.

RE: Monopoly?
By Gzus666 on 9/16/2008 3:45:30 PM , Rating: 2
Windows doesn't "let" anyone use the protocol, they have to use it to be in the computer world. You can't go onto the Internet with anything but TCP/IP, because it has been standardized. Windows installs it, because they can't use anything else. I explained the standard hardware, a PCI-E bus is a standard graphics/expansion bus, and is used by all graphics card makers as a standard for new cards, and of course they somewhat support the AGP/PCI standard with older cards for legacy hardware. When they want a new bus interface, they will collaborate to make a new one, and standardize again. To suggest every OS used the same kernel and API layout is exactly what an industry of standards needs, more standards.

But you're right, lets just keep this crazy fight for supremacy going, that always works for customers. Security is not going to be solid until everyone gets on the same page, same with software stability, usability, and interoperability.

RE: Monopoly?
By Gzus666 on 9/16/2008 3:59:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I figured I would give some more examples of why it is crazy to have everything different between manufacturers. This is similar to having specific roads for each vehicle Make, and only certain makes go on certain roads. How about specific phones only work on specific phone lines, and every manufacturer just used whatever medium they felt was good to carry phone calls? Did everyone forget how old computers wouldn't work at all with each other at one point in time? This stupid OS fight doesn't help any of us, I have no idea why anyone fights for it.

RE: Monopoly?
By Spivonious on 9/17/2008 9:28:56 AM , Rating: 2
Can you drive a car on railroad tracks? Can you drive a train in the water?

If you want to travel across different surfaces (i.e. run applications on different OSes), you're going to need to change a few things.

Who would define such standards of OS design? IEEE? The government? It would take away any competitive advantage the OS has and everything would devolve down to who's OS looks the prettiest.

RE: Monopoly?
By Gzus666 on 9/17/2008 10:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
Can you use a computer to make toast? Sure, if you really want to change the design. What's your point?

Whoever has the prettiest OS is fine with me for competition, that seems to be a Mac's selling point, and they are doing fine, even with heavily overpriced hardware, and sub-par security. The point is, they would still be able to compete, cause the average consumer is retarded at best, and they would have interoperability, security, and usability. Who defined any standards we have in computing? Why are you able to buy a video card from Nvidia or ATI, and use it on most any motherboard? Cause there is a standard port that is used by all manufacturers. Why can you buy RAM from pretty much anyone, and as long as the controller is up to date, and the slot is recent, you can support it? Once again, a standard has been set. There are standards in networking, I don't see Cisco, Nortel, Juniper or others not competing. There are many things they can add on that are positive to their product, while still being able to work together. It is a process, it won't be instant, I wouldn't expect it to be. By your logic, we should just have 10 different expansion bus interfaces, and a few hundred different memory slot sizes and interfaces, all in the name of competition. This is bad for the customer, which oddly enough, would be you, as well as everyone else.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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