When it comes to mobile apps, Apple has truly set the industry standard. It was the first handset maker to launch an applications marketplace of the size and scale of its App Store, which recorded over 10 million downloads in its first week. Other companies would launch similar marketplaces in coming months, like Google's Android Marketplace, or Microsoft's upcoming Sky Market.
However, Apple also received plenty of criticism for its censorship tactics. Apple denied many applications including a proposed South Park application, for a variety of reasons. Some rejected or removed applications were deemed offensive; others unlocked forbidden capabilities like tethering or true third-party browsing (not Safari WebKit based).
Despite the negative reception over such moves, it appears Apple was leading the mobile industry yet again, as Google has reportedly resorted to practicing similar tactics with its Android Marketplace, which sells apps for its G1 smart phone. T-Mobile, the G1's U.S. carrier, was not too pleased when tethering applications started popping up on the Android Marketplace. In response, Google took down the apps and informed developers that the apps breached their Developer Distribution Agreement.
It is unclear at this point whether Google has weeded out all tethering apps, and exactly what its standards are. However, it is clear T-Mobile's terms of service prohibit unofficial tethering. The author of one of the rejected apps, Wifi Tether for Root Users, says that in a lengthy and heated exchange, Google cited this as a reason for the rejection.
The moves are creating quite a stir as Google has market the G1 as an "open" phone. It has often taken jabs at Apple over its iPhone application censorship in the past. Now it finds itself in the same sort of situation -- its carrier, T-Mobile, doesn't want to lose revenue from apps which offer features for free that the carrier charges for (tethering), so it is now forced to comply and remove the offensive app.
The start of G1 app censorship was foreshadowed last year when a "kill switch" for applications was discovered. However, it was rarely used -- until now.
The whole situation has many G1 users quite unhappy, but it appears to be a sad reality of the smart phone world. Ultimately, smart phone makers are at mercy of their carriers. And carriers hate to lose revenue to rebel applications.
quote: It's like those web sites that force you over to a "mobile" version of their website as soon as they detect you're on a phone's interface. Then I have to manually go to the "standard" version of their site. They need to make their standard site so it is not onerous to a mobile platform and have only ONE site. CNN (among many others) are you listening?