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. @Connor MacBook

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

    Doesn’t FlyCast already offer this? I know they have a browser built-in to their program so people can listen to their stations and surf the web at the same time (but maybe it somehow uses Safari).

  2. Wanna bet Apple adds the Podcaster feature set to a future release of iTunes?

    Can you spell Watson?

    This is continuing a pretty bad trend. Randomly pulling iPhone apps that might offend, but this is even worse. It adds a feature that some would find useful, but iTunes doesn’t offer. What’s wrong with that?

    A far as those “offensive: apps, like “I Am Rich” or the Fart app. Why pull those? Whatever their perceived “value”, they work as advertised.

    Gee, I forgot, this IS a Politically Correct world where everyone must adjust to the complaints of the few.

    In that case, I’m offended by Xtian Bible apps. They are harmful and promote violence, sexism and ignorance. Pull THOSE!

  3. You guys missed that magic word “subscription” Next he’ll want to sign you for downloading music at higher cost than Itunes music store. Develop your own system like Apple did and including software and hardware and try to sell it…..

  4. I think people are making a big deal about NOTHING!
    Everyone knows the APP Store beats everything out there by a mile. And none of the developers who have apps making them rich on the App store is going to stop making them just because one or two are rejected.

  5. Rich, read it again.

    “Podcaster, by contrast, would have let you update your podcast subscriptions directly, using the iPhone’s Wi-Fi receiver”

    Podcaster will update your iTunes podcast subscriptions. It doesn’t offer a separate subscription service that piggybacks onto iTunes.

    So, where’s the harm Apple?

  6. Okay, Macaday, you’re right.

    In case I missed something, why didn’t Apple cite this breach of contract when they pulled Podcaster? It would kept the hand wringing and cries of censorship and oppression to a minimum.

    Personally, I still don’t see what’s wrong with Podcaster. Maybe Apple should have just offered to BUY Podcaster and fold those remote-sync features into iTunes. It certainly would have generated GOOD will toward Apple.

    They say there’s no such thing as bad press, but there’s certainly nothing GOOD about this kind of bad press.

  7. Thanks Macaday, the problem with the App Store is not a problem. The developers involved are the problem.

    “This is a particularly shameful thing for developers in the SDK program to misrepresent, because the restrictions are covered in the program’s SDK are are not supposed to be published publicly.”

    Concerning Podcaster myth!

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