Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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The Other iPhone Apps Store

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Daniel Eran Dilger
Pundits are worried that Apple may excessively restrict developers in the iPhone Apps Store. Google is promising mobile developers more freedom in Android Market, and Windows Mobile and even the Palm OS are claiming less restrictions and more variety and options in mobile software than what is available on the iPhone. Absent from all this panic is any consideration of the iPhone’s other apps store: the wide open market for jailbreak apps.

Apple and the New Software Market
How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back
iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music
The Other iPhone Apps Store
SDK 3.3.3: The iPhone Podcaster Surprise Myth
Banned iPhone Apps and the John Gruber Podcaster Defense
The iPhone Monopoly Myth
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Jailbreaking the iPhone.

Prior to Apple’s launch of mobile software in iTunes, developers built their own tools for creating unofficial iPhone apps. Using those “jailbreak” apps required exploiting a security flaw on the phone to break in and install the unofficial software.

Apple’s efforts to address the iPhone’s security flaws have regularly closed those exploited holes, forcing the unofficial software market to discover new ways to bypass the iPhone’s security model to allow unsigned, unofficial third party software. An increased understanding of how the iPhone works has made installing unofficial software easy enough for the community to release a jailbreak update within days of every new software update from Apple.

With the official launch of the Apps Store in iPhone 2.0, the jailbreak community has scaled down for two reasons: first, there was no longer a massive vacuum of unaddressed iPhone software demand to service, and second, there was now a financial motivation for developers to sell their work in Apple’s store, rather than just giving it away.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 08 Iphone3G-Review5-4

Inside iPhone 2.0: the new iPhone App Store

Reasons for Running Around the Apps Store.

At the same time, there are a number of limitations placed on developers by Apple in order to sell their work in the iTunes App Store; those limitations give some developers reason to continue to build unofficial applications, either for free, paid for by ads, or monetized through some independent mechanism the developer handles itself.

Performance Limitations: There are a number of behaviors Apple doesn’t allow in order to keep battery life acceptable and to prevent overheating. These include limits on the kind of network polling apps can do, and a rule against setting up processes that run in the background. Some users may want to ignore these safeguards in order to do things they can’t do with official third party software from the Apps Store.

Security Limitations: Apple requires that official apps be signed with a certificate, which prevents unknown apps from running and allows the company to remotely deactivate rogue apps after they have been distributed. Apple also sandboxes each app into its own area, so apps can’t access each others’ files. Apple also forbids plugins and other methods for running code outside of its security model.

Unofficial APIs: There are some areas of the iPhone that Apple doesn’t expose to developers, including access to some low level hardware such as the dock connector (for a USB attached peripheral) or Bluetooth. In some cases, this is because the APIs aren’t finished, but in other cases it is simply because Apple doesn’t want developers doing certain things. Unofficial apps can use private APIs, but they will break once any significant changes are made on Apple’s side, so Apple insists that developers not use them.

Competitive Limitations: Apple has clearly articulated that it doesn’t want to host alternatives to iTunes’ podcast listings, Adobe Flash, Sun Java, or other third party APIs on the iPhone, and it also won’t support software that runs against its agreements with AT&T, such as tethering tools and VoIP software that works over mobile networks rather than WiFi.

Distribution Limitations: All of these factors are examples of distribution limitations, but in general, the Apps Store also prevents developers from distributing unfinished, DIY, work in progress code that is popular among open source projects. Nobody can release a half finished iPhone App in iTunes under the GPL and allow other developers to contribute toward it, although developers can share such code amongst themselves.

These factors all contribute toward a desire to break out of Apple’s ecosystem and distribute software without having to deal with the limits Apple set up manage performance, security, maintainability, and its own competitive needs.

Second Hand Third Party Apps.

Users who want to play outside of the official App Store that Apple runs within iTunes can install Cydia, which functions as package manager, specifically a graphical front end for APT, the “Advanced Packaging Tool,” used to automatically find and download software on Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.

Choice is a great thing. While Apple doesn’t support the jailbreak community, the fact that it exists means that complaints about Apple’s solitary control over iPhone apps is not valid. Google says its Android Market will offer more freedom to users of Android phones than users of the iPhone can experience, but that’s not really true.

Android, Palm, Symbian, and Windows Mobile can claim to offer less restrictions than Apple itself, but not greater freedom than the iPhone jailbreak community. In fact, users of those other platforms can only get the kind of software that the jailbreak community can deliver. They can’t benefit from Apple’s tightly controlled iTunes App Store environment where security is paramount, prices are low, and quality is high. The iPhone delivers the freedom of both models, and lets users decide.

cydia

Will Google’s Android Play DOS to Apple’s iPhone?
Google’s Android Market Guarantees Problems for Users

Mobile App Store Alternatives

Apple’s own Apps Store involves a number of compromises to deliver workable mobile software for users, and some users and developers are chafing under those limitations. A number of existing mobile software platforms offer fewer limits, but that freedom also comes at a price.

Expense: Most commercial mobile software is far more expensive that the titles found in the Apps Store, in large part because of piracy. Developers know most users will not pay for their work, and therefore they have to price their titles high enough to get some revenues from the minority of users who will pay for it.

Apple’s App Store has proven that DRM can act to lower prices, increase choice, and create a successful market that benefits everyone. Of course, DRM can also be used to exact high prices and limit choice as Microsoft demonstrated with PlaysForSure and the Zune. It’s not DRM that is bad, it’s the implementation.

DRM is certainly going to work better in the hands of a hardware vendor seeking to create a viable software market than in the hands of a software maker working to “monetize” other developers’ work. However, developers who don’t like DRM at all can distribute their iPhone software without it through the jailbreak community. The iPhone provides both choices, while competitors don’t.

Quality: Most mobile software is terrible for two reasons: the first is related to piracy expense noted above; few developers can commit serious resources to developing titles that have little potential for return. The second is that other mobile platforms have archaic development tools and run using outdated operating systems that are stretched thin to support a wide variety of different kinds of phones.

Apple has tight control over the platforms running mobile software in the Apps Store. Currently there are two generations of iPod touch and two versions of the iPhone. This regulated, predictable platform makes it much easier for developers to take full advantage of innovative technologies such as accelerometer controls, which only appear on a few Windows Mobile phones and is optional on Android and Symbian phones as well.

Security: The opposite of security is convenience. It’s great to not have to remember a password, and it’s easier not to have to deal with signed software. Apart from the iPhone, no other mobile platforms have made authority-signed software mandatory across the board, although all are investigating ways to add this.

Many signing programs allow vendors to sign their own apps, which means users would get software that claims to be signed but without any authority actually backing it up. Of course, it isn’t difficult for Chinese spammers and Nigerian scammers to sign their own software and distribute it, enabling users to install “signed” software that installs spyware or secretly bills users for paid SMS message fees. They can’t do that through the iTunes Store however, because they’d have to register with Apple and risk having their certificate killed if they misused it.

Why Apple keeps its iPhone 2.0 SDK under NDA
iPhone 2.0 SDK: How Signing Certificates Work

Control Controversy Irrelevant to the iPhone

And so, while debates may rage between users who don’t like paying a few dollars for software in the Apps Store and would rather collect the work of developers without payment; and among users who like the open software model of being able to distribute any code, where the user is responsible for vetting their own risks; and for unrestricted options that take full advantage of phone hardware without regard for future maintainability as the operating system changes, all of these factors have absolutely no relevance on the iPhone because Apple’s App Store is only one way to load software onto the iPhone.

Users who want to risk their security outside of authoritative certificate signed software, dabble outside of Apple’s quality control that prevents them from obtaining fart joke apps, and venture into the wide open world of apps without guardrails can certainly do that in the jailbreak community.

Other mobile platforms can only offer jailbreak-level software. As for me, I want both options, because sometimes I just want a $5 game that works and that won’t install some trash in the background. I also want to know that alternative options are there for things that Apple hasn’t yet addressed, including video recording. The iPhone is currently the only mobile platform that delivers both options.

The iPhone critics need to stop forgetting to tell that half of the story.

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34 comments

1 dssstrkl { 09.13.08 at 10:13 pm }

The existence of jailbroken iPhones doesn’t excuse Apple from having secret and seemingly arbitrary rules for rejecting apps. The reason why no one is complaining about their turn by turn navigation apps being rejected is because Apple clearly said not to. There is no obvious reason why Podcaster should have been rejected. The fact that devs don’t know if their apps will be rejected or not until after they’re done is a major problem that’s recognized by people other than pundits, including former Apple employees, long time Apple fans and Mac/iPhone developers. That is indicative of a real problem for Apple.

2 lehenbauer { 09.13.08 at 10:27 pm }

Gotta agree with dssstrkl on this one, Daniel… A Podcasting app is way different from a runtime environment like Flash or Java. If Apple is going to arbitrarily decide that certain apps are off-limits without articulating what they are, then refuse the app after it has already been developed, it will have a chilling effect on people developing iPhone apps.

The iPhone is an awesome platform but it also requires programming in a language different from other phone apps and, as such, requires a considerable investment to take it on. One thing that will help iPhone win will be a robust third-party software ecosystem. I assert Apple knows this hence their innovative app store and great developer support. But with Android looming on the horizon, and Microsoft and Palm attempting to revitalize their offerings, with RIM still going strong, this kind of misstep could cost them considerable momentum.

3 mr_kitty { 09.13.08 at 10:29 pm }

The iPhone-optimized redirect for your site broke some time ago. Please fix. k?k.thx.bye.

4 lmasanti { 09.13.08 at 10:34 pm }

quote:
“The fact that devs don’t know if their apps will be rejected or not until after they’re done is a major problem…”

Well, usually, devs do not know what would happen to their apps until they’re done and deliver it to the public.
So, the “risky time investment” is a prerequisite having or nor having AppStore.
OTOH, having the AppStore (and being accepted in) is like “a sure bet” in the sense that “if people like your app” you’ll collect the money.
AppStore’s [seemingly crazy] selection process is the down payment to receive sales money.

Devs should be able to decide which risk to take: “being rejected” or “not receive payment”-

5 dssstrkl { 09.13.08 at 11:09 pm }

@Imasanti:
The difference between devs with a new and/or unknown app and a dev with a rejected iphone app is that the rejected dev has no recourse open to them. Jailbreaking is not a legitimate option to the App Store and will only become more of a niche as time goes on.
A Mac app that’s not popular can be fixed, updated or promoted, but there’s no such thing as an “illegal” Mac app. The fact that there are illegal iPhone apps is bad enough, but the fact that the rules are secret could keep devs and new apps off of the iphone.

6 nat { 09.13.08 at 11:29 pm }

On the whole Podcaster controversy, has anyone actually seen what the app looks like and precisely what unique functionality it offered? I just keep thinking the reason Apple is actually blocking this app is not because it is competitive with what Apple already provides so much as that it…just rips off what Apple provides. Apple can’t do much about that in the wide open computer world (Mac or PC), but they can here.

Any thoughts (including yours Dan) would be nice.

7 John Muir { 09.13.08 at 11:50 pm }

@nat

Even if it were a rip, they really need to have a rule published for devs to see which describes what they feel is wrong with it. It’s the absence of known rules which is the problem. Developers hate to play with their cards all exposed on the table while Apple doesn’t show its own.

8 nat { 09.14.08 at 12:03 am }

@ John Muir,

I get what you’re saying. So is there a separate, but related issue of this rule simply not being on the books? If that’s the case, to a certain extent I agree, Apple needs to clear that up, but at the same time blatantly ripping off any company’s software is sort of an unwritten illegal action. It goes without saying.

9 John Muir { 09.14.08 at 12:04 am }

@Daniel

Jailbreaking’s biggest draw – as you wrote about at the time – was for unlocking and exporting 1st generation iPhones. Apple Stores close to major airports always ran out of supplies more often than the rest, and Steve Jobs himself joked about how popular the iPhone was in many of the countries it is only now being launched in.

The secondary pull of jailbreaking – installing unsanctioned software – was largely sidestepped by Apple’s App Store in 2.0 anyway. As you’ve stated in this article: there’s a much bigger audience, more easily charged and less likely into piracy, in the App Store than way out Jailbreak west. Even with the significant suspension of disbelief required to consider Jailbreak as a second leg to iPhone software development, it’s a second class citizen compared to the App Store.

The damage Apple appears dead set to unleash on its own nascent platform really lies in the hidden rules paradox. Since when was Podcaster offside? Only right at the very end of the game when Apple said so. That’s the worst way of doing it. They’re only harming their own when they run the thing this way. Concise, clear, *public* rules are required so developers can be sure they’re not wasting their time. Some sort of open panel based review system for cases like Podcaster would be especially good, but I’m probably dreaming on that point!

The App Store is great. The touch platform is spectacular. And that’s why it matters so that this is all cleaned up. We can understand poorly made, ill conceived, and carrier-scaring software being turned down. But not this. It does not bode well.

10 nat { 09.14.08 at 12:22 am }

Perhaps another thing to consider is simple conflicts for the end user. For instance, say the user listens to a podcast in Podcaster and it’s keeping its own data independent from Apple’s official podcast functionality, so when the user go to the iPod app and accesses Apple’s podcast section, those podcasts they listened to in Podcaster still have a blue dot next to them in Apple’s app. Then how would iTunes deal with that?

Which just leads me back to the feeling that this Podcaster app was just a complete knock-off of Apple’s software. Otherwise, why would Apple allow developers access to this podcast functionality in the first place?

11 nelsonart { 09.14.08 at 12:38 am }

Well stated, Muir. Would any of us bother to comment on Dan’s excellent blogs if our posts were removed randomly, without a defined set of community rules to go by?

Apple will fix this. Generation A: No 3rd party software. Generation B: 3rd party software, via Apple’s mysterious discretion. Generation C: Clear standards that encourage developers.

12 dssstrkl { 09.14.08 at 12:44 am }

@nat: Podcaster would have to download podcasts and keep them in its own data sandbox. Third-party apps have ZERO access to the ipod app, which includes podcasts loaded by itunes. Don’t forget that podcasts are just RSS feeds that serve audio files rather than blog posts. There are a variety of apps that have automatic podcatcher capabilities, including NetNewsWire and NewsFire. Also, mobile Safari has (rudimentary) RSS capabilities, so should NNW and other iphone RSS readers also be banned?
Mere duplication of functionality should not be a reason for banning an app, especially if it doesn’t violate any of the published rules of the SDK. If it had been banned because of bandwidth issues, that would be more understandable, but it wasn’t. It was banned because it steps on the toes of one of itunes’ functionalities, that it itself duplicated from many previous apps.
That’s why people are pissed, and why Apple needs to publish all of the rules.

13 daGUY { 09.14.08 at 1:58 am }

This article is a bit disingenuous. The “other app store” (aka the jailbreak scene) is spun as a benefit of the iPhone, but that ignores the fact that the whole thing exists in the first place precisely *because* Apple wouldn’t let anyone write their own apps for the device. It continues to exist now as an alternative to the real store when Apple decides your app isn’t eligible for whatever reason.

The article presents the jailbreak scene as a competitive edge for the iPhone, but it’s more like a crutch that exists to make up for what Apple’s official outlet lacks. Other phones don’t need a “jailbreak community” surrounding them because developers can already do whatever they want anyway.

Finally, it of course needs to be noted that jailbreaking is completely unsupported. You can no longer install iPhone OS updates without running the risk of bricking your phone, and Apple will not service your phone if they determine it’s been jailbroken. That’s hardly an “advantage” of the iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Apple’s approach with the App Store has lead to high-quality, low-cost, secure mobile software, and that’s a very good thing. But don’t hide any missteps they make with their policies behind the argument that “well, you can always just jailbreak and do whatever you want.”

14 Hari Seldon { 09.14.08 at 2:25 am }

As a user, the occasional app being rejected doesn’t really concern me, I can understand that developers may be worried though. I use iTunes for my podcasts so I was never in the market for this app.

On balance, for me and I suspect for most users, the app store is just about perfect, sure with over 3,000 apps, improved search and/or categorization would help. But given the implementation, the confidence that all apps have been approved and the general slickness of the app store, I can’t get upset about this.

Wish I’d grabbed Netshare when it was up though :)

15 Scott { 09.14.08 at 4:11 am }

@ daGuy,

Apple is hiding nothing. If you want to customize your BMW by adding extra hardware and stuff that is you own baby, you would not go to BMW and complain that your extras broke the engine. But you are free to do exactly that customize your BWM to your hearts content and break it if you must.
Two, the argument that jail broken supports the iPhone is a valid argument. You want the iPhone but cannot stand the App Store you are free to jail break it and install whatever you want and any reasonable person know that s/he will be doing that at own risk.

Other platforms’ markets? This entire claim that they are somehow superior is a theory for now, we will see in two – three years time. I for one will always chose security over convenience and I guess millions of other people.

16 timpritlove { 09.14.08 at 4:19 am }

I wonder what makes you so sure the “Jailbreak market” is going to survive. This second market has neither been established by Apple nor is it clear if Apple won’t find a technical way to close it down with a future update to the iTunes software or iPhone firmware. At least, they could make it really hard to have both “markets” working at the same time.

So in my point of view, this “second market” is not a market overall as it does not provide the customer the assurance it’s going to be here tomorrow.

Also I don’t know where you find the information that “Apple has clearly articulated that it doesn’t want to host alternatives to iTunes’ podcast listings”. While I can see a point Apple intervening when it comes to paid music where Apple has signed contracts with music labels it is totally unrelated with podcasts that mostly come free and are not sustained by any infrastructure of Apple. Although the directory does provide a good service to the podcasting community by being the only really working and technically sane podcast directory it is still free content being reused by Apple to drive sales of their players.

Don’t get me wrong: I am totally in fond of Apple boosting player sales by offering podcasts in a convenient way. But it is obvious at least some listeners want to be able to update podcasts “on the go” and Apple hasn’t shown any sign they will change their current schema that relies on the “hub” to act as a data center reducing the iPod to a dumb terminal. But the iPhone is totally Internet-enabled. If I can buy music online that syncs back, why can’t I download podcasts online that syncs back later? It just doesn’t make any sense.

If it is about protecting cell networks from excessive bandwidth, why not limiting the Podcaster application to do its work via WLAN only? And if Apple is in fact preparing to do mobile podcast syncing in the near future, why bother that functionality gets duplicated? If they would really want to protect the developer from being smashed by an iTunes/iPhone software update later since when does Apple care?

Nevertheless, it is a difficult decision in what way Apple allows for competition. The App Store is definitely not a free market although it has opened up the platform for third parties to contribute to Apple’s success and getting a bite out of the cake for those that join the App Store, and that’s fine as Apple has never pretended it would be. But it is really annoying that the selection process is as in-transparent as it is.

I think the jailbreak market does neither serve the App Store nor the customers. It just there as a showcase market what could be possible but not more. People just can’t rely on it to exist forever so not a single mission critical app will be installed through that channel ever. Apple can and will destroy the jailbreak market the moment it becomes a danger to its business model the same way they keep unwanted apps from their App Store.

In the short term the “Podcaster decision” is going to a do a big disservice to Apple in that it spreads “fear and uncertainty” among the developer scene. The average usefulness of applications currently in the App Store is still pretty low and although people are still in a buying frenzy because everything is still new and shiny doesn’t garantuee this is going on forever. Apple needs to sustain good relationships to their developers to make more good developers deliver more great apps. The number of “killer apps” is still low, although I think the game market will be a market on its own. But we all know the iPhone is about more than just games.

Apart from all that Apple has to be pretty thankful to the Podcasting community in general. The iPhone 2.1 finally brought some real innovation and improvement to the podcasting functionality of the platform but there is still a lot more to do. Fighting “Podcaster” is a bad move in that sense.

17 raymccrae { 09.14.08 at 4:34 am }

For those of you that haven’t seen Podcaster yet the creator has made a screencast of the app on his site :-
http://www.nextdayoff.com/

He is also offering it to be downloaded and installed via the adhoc distribution for a donation of $10. Presumably he is not “selling” it because apple could revoke his certificate and there might be legal recourse for him from his customers.

Personally I believe there needs to be complete transparency in the vetting process for the app store. Hopefully this can constructively be conveyed to apple without the apple haters ceasing this as another opportunity for an anti-iphone tirade.

18 fatbarstard { 09.14.08 at 4:45 am }

Yeah well most of the above makes good points… but lets have some perspective here. The Apps Store has been open less than 90 days… its less than 3 months old!!! In retail terms is has barely started in business…

Apple absolutely needs to be much clearer about its policies on rejecting apps and why, but to call its demise it going a bit far. As Dan points out the vast majority of people will be happy with the Apps store and don’t want to jailbreak their phone or muck around with apps in the ‘wild’.

I’m one of those people… I’m not a programmer, I’m a financier and I just don’t have the time or inclination to do other than stick to the Apps Store. As it happens I used to have a Palm Tero and I never bothered with any Apps other than what came on the phone because it was just a pain to get them. With the iPhone I have about 12 Apps because it is so easy and the security and quality controls Apple insists on mean that I am not going to get any junk on my phone. And that works very well for me.

Apple does need to do some work, but guess what?? it is also learning about how the App Store works and how to deal wtih developers. As it learns and gets more sure about what sort of ‘thing’ the App Store is then I expect some of the shackles will come off.

As I said, its only been going less than three months!!

19 Jon T { 09.14.08 at 6:35 am }

The massive, emotive, reaction to the Podcaster programme eing withdrawn is overcooked to my mind. The iPhone platform needs a decent, selective number of apps, NOT the millions of duplicating, rubbish apps that offer nothing new – as is too easily seen on the Windows platform.

It should also be noted that Podcaster downloads large >10mb podcasts via 3g, which would lead to degradation of the network. Downloading 100mb files on 3g is hardly what we need the networks to have to handle just now…surely?

20 timpritlove { 09.14.08 at 7:26 am }

@Jon T: A ton of “duplicating, rubbish apps that offer nothing new” is what you find on the App Store right now. The Podcaster app offers something new.

And about the 3G networks: people use 3G with their laptops every day – at least in Germany. T-Mobile gives out a second SIM card to every iPhone user so that they can use the same contract with their computers. And what do these computers do? They download podcasts. So where is the big difference?

3G networks are just the last mile in wireless. The internet backbones can easily handle the load and they do it anyway as it’s all the same network.

However, if this is really a problem, the iPhone OS could block certain apps to work via cellular data networks as they do with their own Music store (which I think is silly given the facts mentioned above).

21 counterproductive { 09.14.08 at 12:36 pm }

OK, so there are reasons for running around the iTunes app store. I don’t think that is the primary motivation for some people having unlocked or jailbroken their phones. I have friends in here in Europe who either got their phone before the iPhone was officially available in their country, or it still is not available. In any case, if now available in their country, they would still rather have an unlocked phone that they can pop a pay-as-you-go SIM into. Particularly while travelling around Europe — they never used a monthly account with roaming even before getting an iPhone, they always popped in Pay-as-you-go SIMs from whichever country they were in.

I guess they are in the opposite boat — they would really like to use the app store on iTunes, they are not interested in any “other iPhone app store”, so hopefully they don’t run into problems using the iTunes app store.

22 Janus { 09.14.08 at 12:42 pm }

I’ve moved to India where the official price of the iPhone 3G is a staggering $800. There’s no way in hell I am paying that much, and so I am dependent on the Jailbreakers to keep my phone’s AT&T SIM-lock down and out.

23 olivervs { 09.14.08 at 3:56 pm }

You don’t have free choice whether you use a jailbreak or an official iPhone – Apple actively tries to prevent people opening their iPhones. Apple’s terms are strict, and you either have to accept them or you will have difficulties with your device.

The removal of a podcasting application cannot come as a surprise for any developer. The terms for the iPhone SDK state clearly in section 3.3.3 that developers should not offer any distribution mechanisms apart from the AppStore.

Apple has good reasons for this: security, copyright, bandwidth. There are many other offerings that are forbidden in the AppStore; you may not sell pornography, for instance. If you want pornography, you are limited to the iPhone’s web browser. I missed the outrage on this limitation…

24 nelsonart { 09.14.08 at 4:33 pm }

It’s not about an App. It’s about fear and uncertainty and arbitrariness vs. transparency, well laid out conditions/rules, and fairness.

Many developers prefer the latter.

I love the App store. There are valid concerns regarding Apple’s approach to entry.

25 lehenbauer { 09.14.08 at 5:22 pm }

Now that I have looked more closely at the Podcaster app, I am not as concerned. I thought it was an app for creating podcasts. If it is an app for playing them, it is pretty close to stepping on Apple’s iPod/iTunes toes.

26 nat { 09.14.08 at 5:40 pm }

dssstrkl said:

“Podcaster would have to download podcasts and keep them in its own data sandbox. Third-party apps have ZERO access to the ipod app, which includes podcasts loaded by itunes. Don’t forget that podcasts are just RSS feeds that serve audio files rather than blog posts. There are a variety of apps that have automatic podcatcher capabilities, including NetNewsWire and NewsFire. Also, mobile Safari has (rudimentary) RSS capabilities, so should NNW and other iphone RSS readers also be banned?”

Ok, but do your examples really work? NNW offers a very different interface and much improved functionality compared to Safari’s rudimentary RSS reading. Podcaster, from the video (raymccrae posted a link above) I saw offers an interface nearly indistinguishable from that of Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch podcast player (let alone iTunes’ podcast listing) and no unique functionality (other than the ability to download and subscribe to podcasts from the device itself; that isn’t possible in the iPhone’s podcast player, right?). Why should Apple allow the blatant duplication of their software?

27 airmanchairman { 09.14.08 at 6:08 pm }

I boldly suggest that history and bitter experience in the past MUST also be factored into Apple Inc’s stance with regard to 3rd party development and the iPhone/iPod Touch SDK.

My ancestors say that “the fowl does not ever forget the farmer that plucks off all its feathers in the cold season”. For those tech-minded types and developers who were not born at the time or too young to appreciate the techno-politics of the nascent PC (microcomputer) era, Dan’s archive posts of those heady days will quickly bring you up to date with the merciless and mercenary treatment the Apple Mac received at the hands of 3rd party software developers once the Windows-Intel-OEM ecosystem juggernaut took to the skies like a super-jumbo.

In a nutshell, these developers became “a law unto themselves” and, in the heady pursuit of the massive market opening up, they simply could not be bothered to help maintain the Apple Mac platform’s edge in functionality, instead opting to develop equal features for both platforms, putting the niche products of Apple Inc at a massive disadvantage, as if dwindling market share was not bad enough.

The bleatings of a great many of today’s software programmers regarding background processes, the NDA and selection for the App Store smack of this same unholy mix of greed, self-importance and inordinate ambition – “hurry up and relax the rules already, we want to write bestsellers, we want to run expensive classes, the success or otherwise of the platform depends on our expertise and we can make or break it, the power and stability requirements of the devices are not important enough factors we will allow to get in our way” etc.

May Apple Inc never forget them or their new generation, who by all accounts are even more “red-eyed” than their forbears in the pursuit of rock stardom at the expense of all other considerations, social sense or decency.

On a more positive note, however, this wretched past should not blind Apple Inc to the altruistic arguments that are being genuinely put forward from time to time for the greater good and the advancement of the platform.

28 SDK 3.3.3: The iPhone Podcaster Surprise Myth — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 09.15.08 at 1:04 am }

[...] The Other iPhone Apps Store The Class Filter. [...]

29 addicted44 { 09.15.08 at 2:02 am }

Jailbreaking is not an alternative. There is only ONE way Apple can do this well, and do it right. Let the Apple app store be one amongst many available app stores for the iphone.

Other app stores could have policies that allow people to install whatever crap they want on their non-jailbroken iphone. On the other hand, if users want checks on their apps, then they will go through the official Apple one.

Apple may want to create a “perfect environment” but the imperfect environment Google will bring with Android will destroy this Apple fantasy unless Apple changes its ways. If they dont, it will be Dos and MS all over again.

30 Jon T { 09.15.08 at 4:37 am }

Thsnk you airmanchairman, that post was a timely reminder.

I get the feeling that there is a new generation of Mac /iPhone converts that will do anything to subvert Apple and the Mac/iPhone/iPod platforms into a reincarnation of Microsoft Windows.

31 LunaticSX { 09.15.08 at 6:19 am }

I wrote a long response to the comments about Podcaster on this article, but since Daniel wrote a separate article about the Podcaster controversy I posted it as a response to that article, instead (if anyone cares). Here’s responses to specific comments on this article:

@John Muir

“Jailbreaking’s biggest draw – as you wrote about at the time – was for unlocking and exporting 1st generation iPhones.”

Actually, that’s unlocking, which is quite separate from jailbreaking. Generally both functions are rolled into the same software, but you can jailbreak an iPhone without unlocking it, and unlock one without jailbreaking it, as well. (Though in reality it’ll be jailbroken, unlocked, and “re-jailed,” as it were.)

@daGUY

“You can no longer install iPhone OS updates without running the risk of bricking your phone”

At this point the jailbreaking community have gone far beyond the dangers of bricking your phone. There’s no doubt that part of their testing of new jailbreaks includes making sure that the method will always allow you at the very least to wipe your phone and re-install the official OS, along with your most recent backup. (Of course, they also always strongly emphasize making an up-to-date backup right before going through the process of jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod Touch.)

@timpritlove

“I wonder what makes you so sure the ‘Jailbreak market’ is going to survive.”

Personally I think the “Jailbreak market” is going to survive as long as there are geeks and open source advocates. It’s the same as how as long as Mount Everett exists there will always be new people who want to climb it.

“At least, [Apple] could make it really hard to have both ‘markets’ working at the same time.”

They already do. The jailbreakers have gotten very, very skilled and competent over the 14+ months since the iPhone was first released.

@addicted44

“Jailbreaking is not an alternative. There is only ONE way Apple can do this well, and do it right. Let the Apple app store be one amongst many available app stores for the iphone.”

That’s simply not in Apple’s interest, nor is it in the interest of their shareholders. You may feel that it’s unfortunate that that trumps the interests of a small minority of their customers (and make no mistake, the vast majority are perfectly well served by the App Store as it is, and Apple’s policies regarding it), but that’s business.

“the imperfect environment Google will bring with Android will destroy this Apple fantasy unless Apple changes its ways.”

Please, keep holding your breath. It makes your face turn such pretty colors. :)

@Jon T

“I get the feeling that there is a new generation of Mac /iPhone converts that will do anything to subvert Apple and the Mac/iPhone/iPod platforms into a reincarnation of Microsoft Windows.”

Indeed. Witness the continued bleating that what Apple “NEEDS” to do is sell loss-leader commodity PCs, make Mac OS available for ALL PC hardware, and/or ditch their own hardware entirely and become a software-only house.

Uh huh. And I need to nail one of my feet to the floor to enable me to run faster.

32 Banned iPhone Apps and the John Gruber Podcaster Defense — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 09.18.08 at 1:41 am }

[...] Is Changing the PC Software World… Back iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music The Other iPhone Apps Store SDK 3.3.3: The iPhone Podcaster Surprise Myth Banned iPhone Apps and the John Gruber Podcaster [...]

33 How Apple Is Changing the PC Software World… Back — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 09.18.08 at 5:25 am }

[...] Is Changing the PC Software World… Back iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music The Other iPhone Apps Store SDK 3.3.3: The iPhone Podcaster Surprise Myth Banned iPhone Apps and the John Gruber Podcaster [...]

34 iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 09.18.08 at 5:26 am }

[...] Is Changing the PC Software World… Back iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music The Other iPhone Apps Store SDK 3.3.3: The iPhone Podcaster Surprise Myth Banned iPhone Apps and the John Gruber Podcaster [...]

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