Apple blocks developers from bypassing App Store for iPhone, iPod touch

“At the launch of the App Store, Apple noted the ability for developers to distribute software outside of the App Store. Essentially, Apple allows developers to issue software based on the iPhone’s serial number. This allows a company to issue an application to iPhones, without the application being on the App Store,” Christopher Price reports for PhoneNews.

“More importantly, it gave Apple an out to bypass anti-competitive business practices. If a developer doesn’t want to sell their software on the App Store, they can still sell it to customers directly. This was put to the test last week when Podcaster, an application barred from sale on the App Store, began being sold directly to customers,” Price reports.

Price continues, “Apple today shut down Podcaster’s developer once again. Essentially, Apple removed the developer’s ability to deploy software onto client (customer) devices. Prior to today, Podcaster was banned from the App Store, due to Apple’s assertion that it competes with iTunes, and that they do not have to allow iTunes competitors to be offered on the App Store.”

According to Price, “This puts Apple in a dangerous legal position. Before today, Apple had rights to assert that the App Store was only one sales channel, which they had every right to control. Now Apple is asserting rights to control any and all sales channels of software to iPhone and iPod touch owners.”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s Ad Hoc distribution mechanism was intended for Beta testing as well as for small in-house projects with a limited distribution group of to up to 100 users, not sales of apps. Price’s argument simply does not hold water.

More in the full article here.

If you imagine a trojan being distributed via the Ad Hoc option, then shutting down Ad Hoc app distribution is probably not a bad thing. Security trumps the benefits of podcast managers, wealth proclamations, tethering apps, and *gasp* even fart buttons. By the way, many thousands of developers seem to be able read, understand, and abide by Apple’s rather clearly spelled out SDK terms.

That said, we wish Apple would clearly explain why they are pulling/blocking apps that do no harm and/or add functionality beyond that of Apple’s offerings as it would likely aid some developers in project planning.

Apple’s getting a bad rap from certain outlets especially in comparison to Google’s supposed “open” (and dangerous, we believe) approach with Android; with some people even going as far as to state that Google will be to iPhone as Windows was to Mac* (a conclusion to that skirmish hasn’t yet arrived, by the way). These same people doubtless said the same thing about PlaysForSure devices+online outifts vs. iPod+iTunes. Didn’t happen, for obvious reasons.

*We’d rather have control than chaos which is part of the reason we choose Mac. Please see related articles below.

42 Comments

  1. Oh, I think Apple will be on fine legal footing.
    I mean, Sony doesn’t allow just any old crap to be sold for its Playstions. Or Nintendo for its systems.

    What exactly makes the iPhone any different?

    Apple wasn’t required to ever open up the ecosystem in the first place. They chose to. And now they’re choosing the apps that can run on it.

    If you ask me, I think developers ought to put more thought into what they write for the device before they assume it’ll pass Apple’s litmus test. I mean, duh. Did they think they’d be allowed to put a competing service on the iPhone?

  2. Lame, Apple. Podcaster does something that the iPhone version of iTunes doesn’t do, namely allow you to browse and view the iTunes store’s video and audio podcasts directly on your phone without using a computer. Perhaps Apple is killing this because they’re developing the same thing? Even so, I’m angry about it.

  3. No apologies for Apple this time MDN.
    Apple had better be careful what their next moves are going to be concerning this touchy topic. So far, I’m not liking what I’m hearing. I didn’t know that there was more than one sales channel. If Apple said there was going to be more than one sales channel and suddenly go back on this….well….
    Its just not a good thing for Apple in the long run.

  4. If someone is downloading a 200MB HD video podcast, say from the Washington Post, like I do, and if they do it over Podcaster using the 3G network, imagine what that does to all those people using the same cell tower?

    I would like Apple to ban bandwidth hogs, until AT&T;has the capacity to handle this. Until then, good riddance. Of course, if Podcaster were to limit their downloads to wifi, that would be fine.

  5. I think article, or at least the summary provided here, is quite incorrect. The purpose of the Ad-Hoc distribution mechanism was not so developers could “sell it to customers directly”. It was designed to answer the needs of the developer to have beta testers of the application without putting it on the iPhone.

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