Apple rejects ‘Podcaster’  iPhone app from App Store because it duplicates iTunes functionality

“This week [Apple] faces a full-scale revolt,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt blogs for Fortune. “The issue: Apple’s summary rejection of a program on the grounds that it duplicated a function on one of its own programs. ‘Apple has gone too far,’ writes Paul Kafasis for O’Reilly Digital Media. ‘Rejecting an application because it might compete with Apple is simply indefensible.'”

“‘If this is truly Apple’s policy, it’s a disaster for the platform,’ says Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, one of Apple’s most influential supporters,” Elmer-DeWitt reports.

“‘I will never write another iPhone application for the App Store as currently constituted,’ writes Fraser Speirs, developer of a popular iPhone app called Exposure. His post is titled ‘App Store: I’m Out,'” Elmer-DeWitt reports.

Elmer-DeWitt reports, “The battle lines were drawn when an Apple representative reviewing submissions for the App Store rejected a program called Podcaster. According to its developer, Alex Sokirynsky, Apple turned his program down on these grounds: ‘Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.'”

Elmer-DeWitt reports, “But as nearly every commentator has pointed out, Podcaster went an important step beyond Apple’s program. iTunes requires that you plug the iPhone into your computer to sync it before you can get the latest broadcasts. Podcaster, by contrast, would have let you update your podcast subscriptions directly, using the iPhone’s Wi-Fi receiver.”

Full article here.

On the other hand, RoughlyDrafted’s Daniel Eran Dilger writes today, “The ‘controversy’ surrounding Podcaster is a joke. The iPhone SDK clearly outlines ‘Your Obligations’ in its section 3, with 3.2 addressing ‘Use of the SDK’ and 3.3 laying out ‘Program Requirements for Applications.'”

Dilger writes, “Under section 3.3 (I’m looking at a ‘pre-release confidential’ version that was freely available on the web from a Google search; this may have changed slightly in newer revisions), it lists fifteen very simple requirements related to APIs and functionality. The third one:”

3.3.3 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.

Dilger writes, “One can complain that Apple is not handing its platform over to third party developer control again, something that worked out disastrously on the original Macintosh, but it’s simply ignorant to complain that Apple is shooting developers out of the sky without warning.”

Full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Macaday” for the heads up.]

[UPDATED: 11:15am EDT with RoughlyDrafted article excerpt and link.]

If duplicating the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes is Apple’s only reason for barring this app, then as we pointed out after Apple wrongly pulled “I Am Rich” from the App Store – an app that did exactly what it was advertised to do and did no harm at all to iPhone, by the way – “Apple’s position is simply indefensible… Apple is completely in the wrong about this and is sliding rapidly down a slippery slope.”

Who’s making these app decisions and on what grounds, Apple? A summer intern?

Apple needs to wise up quickly lest they be tagged as not only as unprepared and unclear, but, far worse: anti-developer and anti-competitive.

MacDailyNews Note: As Elmer-DeWitt notes, Sokirynsky is currently using Apple’s Ad Hoc App Distribution system to make Podcaster available. The app can be installed on any iPhone or iPod touch running firmware 2.0 or higher. You DO NOT need to jailbreak your device. More info and how to get the app (US$9.99 donation) here.


  1. If you want to stop developing apps for the app store, fine.

    Carry your ass! I am 100% behind Apple, and do not give a shit about developers that can’t hack it.

    Good riddance.

  2. First of all, I agree that Apple should be the gatekeepers for iPhone software – to a point. They should check the software to make sure it is not malicious or does something detremental to either the device or it’s software.

    However, they should not be app “censors”. Let the market decide what is and isn’t appropriate iPhone software. If this continues to happen, the other companies WILL pass you up and the iPhone will fade into obscurity.

  3. You see now the dangers of a OS AND a Hardware monopoly!

    I’m so glad I’m using Windows and a rotary phone!

    Jokes aside, my pet peeve against Apple is their insistance of offering glossy screen only computers when nearly every online poll people prefer matte screens to avoid annoying reflections and headache causing eyestrain.

    Apple isn’t run by Steve Jobs anymore, that’s been obvious for quite some time now.

  4. Re: GettingSickOfThis

    Especially if Apple does not provide clear guidance up front what will be accepted, and what will not be. Imagine spending countless hours and money creating a project that takes podcasting abilities, and makes them better, just to have Apple reject it because it does something similar to iTunes, even though iTunes does not have the same capabilities. I don’t know anything about this app, other than the MDN article, but to have Apple censor or block something for these reasons is just plain wrong. Censoring for maliciousness or offensive is fine, but to do it like they have been is not right, and making them look very bad in my eyes.

  5. I support Apple’s right to do whatever the hell it wants, and live and die by its decisions. Somehow I don’t think this will mean the end of the App Store.

    I’m just waiting for a developer to try and offer an alternative browser to Safari …

  6. Just watch! Steve will overturn this by weeks end. Negative or positive controversy is EXPOSURE for Apple and tunes people in who are wondering just what this new App store is all about. I am a person who is way to the right, but Apple is way to the left, and this makes their leftsidedness look foolish and contrary and Steve will change it by weeks end unless there is something that we don’t know yet.

  7. Glad Apple censors apps on its apps store. Also, if you don’t like it, then carry your whining ass.

    Apple needs to keep iron fisted control of the apps store. It ain’t a democracy, it ain’t freedom of speech, it ain’t freedom of the press.

    I hope they keep slapping down shitware and crybabyware.

  8. MDN and its fellow travellers are missing the point.

    The Podcaster is a rip-off of Apple’s product. Two, its a duplication. 3 App Store, is Apple’s store, Apple has every right to veto what goes in or out. 4 Developers who do not want to develop for the iPhone are free to go some were else e.g. Windoze Mobile and try their luck there.
    Apple should insist on apps that add value and cut down on duplication and poorly concieved and usesless apps like the fart app or the useless expensive diamond crap. Uselss and duplicates waste everyones time and money.
    Less is always more!

  9. “iTunes 8 is giving Vista PC users the Blue Screen of Death as well.”

    And Apple published a fix quickly and several days ago.

    iTunes 8: If Windows Vista displays a blue screen error message when connecting iPhone or iPod
    Last Modified: September 12, 2008
    Article: TS2280

    Please continue with your regularly scheduled hallucinations and maniacal ranting.

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