Apple Makes Changes to App Store Policies

By  |  Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 9:48 am

Stung by criticism, Apple has put a muzzle on applicants to the App Store by including the rejection letters it sends under a non-disclosure agreement. In addition, it has closed a loophole which was allowing rejected developers to find other avenues to serve their applications to users.

The newest rejection letters come complete with a warning to those reading them: “THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE.” No doubt this move is in response to high-profile cases of rejection by Apple, where developers in protest published the letters in verbatim.

We’ve covered at least one of these apps in detail, Almerica’s Podcaster, and shared our laments over Apple’s hard-lined stance several days later when another developer got the thumbs-down. Apparently, Apple’s had enough of this kind of coverage and has decided to put the kibosh on any further releases of its rejection notices.

But it doesn’t end with the extension of the NDA. Apple is taking it one step further by closing a loophole which was allowing developers such as Almerica to bypass the App Store completely. Originally intended for education and software testing, it allowed for ad-hoc licenses to be created which would allow the applications to be run on the phone legally.It seems as if Apple’s latest moves may begin to put the company in a potentially risky position. While I will always side with a company who is attempting to protect its own interests, there is a point where such protection slides from legitimate interests to anti-competitive behavior. This is one of those cases.

Essentially, Apple is using the excuse that if an app is similar to one of its own, it will block it — like Podcaster. It’s also saying that if it does not approve of a certain application, it will do everything in its power to prevent the application from being installed on the phone, ever.

This is essentially monopolistic, and sounds ever-so-familiar to the accusations leveled against Microsoft for its moves to promote Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, does it not? What makes it any different for Apple to do the same thing?

PhoneNews‘ Christopher Price seems to suggest there is no difference.

“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. Apple appears to be betting on the legal precedent of time; it would take years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, to challenge such an anti-competitive business practice.”

With the release of T-Mobile’s Android-based G1, and its approach to accept any app for release without any apparent interference, Apple’s moves could be coming at the worst time. If Apple angers enough of these developers, it could have the unintended effect of putting its competitors in a much better position to siphon away market share.


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Paul Warner Says:

    Could not agree more. I’m writing a post now, should be posted today on my blog about this very topic. Not only does this give android a possible advantage, but I see a class action suit in Apple’s future if they continue down this path. I really like my iPhone, but if the Google phone does all, or most of the same things, and is a open platform I might jump ship.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Whoa…I don’t like this either but let’s be serious! Close to 4000 applications and we’re talking about a handful rejected? This is silly!

  3. Kim Campbell Says:

    Opening up apps from anywhere would simply turn the iPhone and it’s experience into another virus and malware magnet exactly like Microshit. The WHOLE attraction of the iPhone is the experience and security it offers. The five morons who keep agitating for this stupidity of an OPEN platform need to take their business elsewhere WE the other 99.999999999999999999999999999999% want it EXACTLY like it is NOW. FUCK the rest of you morons!

  4. zato Says:

    The internet-wide Microsoft sponsored anti-iPhone propaganda continues.

  5. Relyt Says:

    @zato – What?

    Why is everybody comparing this to Microsoft? Apple selling a phone has nothing to do with Microsoft!

  6. Paul Warner Says:

    I’m not saying Apple should not do any oversight of the apps store, but right now they seem to be overly aggressive in that regard. They have a great product with the phone, and store.

  7. Ed Oswald Says:

    I’m confused too. Look at my writings from my previous gig at BetaNews. Hardly anti-Apple.

  8. nanisani Says:

    This may be a bad developer relations issue for Apple, but it’s not at all like Microsoft’s browser and media player issues.

    The simple difference is that Microsoft had and has their OS on the vast majority of computers worldwide. The iPhone represents a small fraction of the world’s smart-phones and is in no way a monopoly.

  9. Mark Says:

    It seems to me that iPhone developers want their cake and want to eat it too. They want to develop any app and have Apple distribute it and they want a safe market place.

    First every store from Wal-Mart down has the right to decide what they carry. Second, Apple developed this device. They are aware of the limitations this device has. Third, no one other than Apple has the RIGHT to develop for this device.

    Lastly, I think the developer relations angle is overplayed. There are plenty of developers that are making money without much, if any, interference from Apple. If the shoe were on the other foot, I don’t think any of the developers would do anything different. They would protect their product and hard earned capital in every legal way they could.

  10. Alan Smith Says:

    Why is journalism so sensational? Please report on some real news.

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