Apple cuts off unofficial avenue for rebuffed iPhone apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
After an iPhone app developer successfully discovered a workaround for being turned down at the App Store in iTunes, Apple has cracked down and barred an unofficial method as well, potentially raising an anti-competition dispute.



Almerica, the creator of a podcast download and playback tool known as Podcaster, faced a second hurdle in as many weeks when Apple shut down access to creating ad hoc licenses for the utility.



Until this point, the developer had been using the method, originally intended for education and software testing, as an impromptu distribution tactic: new licenses would be created in exchange for a $10 contribution. The approach left out the App Store entirely and consequently left Apple out of its 30 percent revenue from each sale.



While Apple itself didn't attempt to explain its move, the clampdown came after the company rejected Podcaster for reasons still disputed today. The iTunes operator had left Podcaster in limbo for several weeks between July and the end of August, only to turn it down over its alleged duplication of iTunes functionality. Neither the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store nor the music player in the iPhone and iPod touch firmware offer the ability to download podcasts.



The attempt to shutter Podcaster outside of the App Store has already been labeled a risky precedent by critics, who note that Apple is now attempting to regulate both its official source for its devices' apps but also unofficial routes as well. It echoes similarly controversial moves by Verizon and other carriers who in the past have barred unofficial apps from their phones in an attempt to control all app revenue.



"This puts Apple in a dangerous legal position," says Phone News' Christopher Price. "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."



A completely closed development environment such as this is likened to a "walled garden" where the iPhone maker has a virtual monopoly and can shut out viable competitors to its own software.



Apple also shows no plans for a turnaround. Although Almerica has since found that Podcaster's installer still works and that those who already elected to receive the app will obtain a working copy, Cupertino-based Apple has begun attempts to minimize the controversies that trigger such unusual methods in the first place. A recent rejection notice reported at Mac Rumors came with a non-disclosure agreement that prevents discussion of the reasons behind the rejection and so doesn't let this developer or others voice public opposition to their exclusion from the App Store.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 136
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Apple behave, you're really pushing it now. Please respect your developers.
  • Reply 2 of 136
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    That's one way to fix the bad publicity over rejected apps. Not the one we were expecting though.
  • Reply 3 of 136
    Absolutely disgusting.
  • Reply 4 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Apple behave, you're really pushing it now. Please respect your developers.



    I have absolutely no sympathy for Almerica. As an iPhone developer, I don't feel any disrespect from Apple. I understood the rules when I signed up.



    The ad hoc provisioning method was not intended to be used to sell software outside of the App Store. What Almerica is doing is disrespecting iPhone developers. Potentially causing Apple to disable Ad Hoc provisioning in defense and thereby making it difficult to beta test software outside of the developers own hardware.
  • Reply 5 of 136
    You know, it's funny. Check out the Apps Store and its FlyCast App. Start FlyCast. Look at the Guide. Touch "On-Demand Audio". A list appears. What do you see? Podcasts! Lots and lots of podcasts!



    Golly.
  • Reply 6 of 136
    Description for Podcaster shows "Podcaster allows you to stream and listen to all your favorite audio podcasts without having to sync with iTunes."



    That's stupid. It is in the SDK license agreement that you cannot make something to get around iTunes.



    Those dudes should stop fighting Apple. Instead, change the company name and product name, submit the app with a different SDK membership, and never mention again. They will get approved.
  • Reply 7 of 136
    eaieai Posts: 417member
    I'll support Apple in a lot of what they do, but I think they need to fix things here. This guy put a lot of time into making this app, only to have it rejected. I wouldn't have said that it contravened any of Apples rules, but then they don't publish a clear list of guidelines... NDAing everything is also really frustrating - I'd like to buy a book on iPhone development, but I can't! From my point of view, it makes Apple look like Big Brother, and that worries me, as I'm normally very supportive...



    I think, to a certain extent a 'walled garden' is ok, but Apple need to make it 100% clear what they'll allow, so as not to waste developer's time. They also need to treat developers better or they'll just not bother.
  • Reply 8 of 136
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    Hey Apple, I hope you're listening:



    F you.



    Please stop screwing your developers.



    Once again, f you.
  • Reply 9 of 136
    Devils Advocate regarding NDA changes:



    Wonder how developers would feel if, after they submitted an application for approval, found that Apple had copied every blog in town about what a pathetic piece of crap app had just been submitted to them?



    Up until now, developers have been able to visibly & vocally complain about Apple, however, for all we know, the app could have been complete crap, and Apple can't really explain that to anyone without trashing some developer.



    Perhaps it's better if both Apple & devs zip it up in this case, as what's going on is not making either party look good.



    Just sayin'
  • Reply 10 of 136
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPhoneCoder View Post


    I have absolutely no sympathy for Almerica. As an iPhone developer, I don't feel any disrespect from Apple. I understood the rules when I signed up.



    The ad hoc provisioning method was not intended to be used to sell software outside of the App Store. What Almerica is doing is disrespecting iPhone developers. Potentially causing Apple to disable Ad Hoc provisioning in defense and thereby making it difficult to beta test software outside of the developers own hardware.



    Uhhhh, nice first post. Are you sure you're not posting from the bowels of 1 Infinite Loop?



    If you are, can you please tell your bosses to stop fucking with developers? This is getting tiresome.
  • Reply 11 of 136
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Until this point, the developer had been using the method, originally intended for education and software testing, as an impromptu distribution tactic: new licenses would be created in exchange for a $10 contribution. The approach left out the App Store entirely and consequently left Apple out of its 30 percent revenue from each sale.



    The end should not justify the means. Imagine what would happen if everyone started auto repair bodyshop in their garage because the city , for whatever reason, refused to give them a permit to open one!



    They should have released the software for jailbroken iPhones instead of going through this mess.
  • Reply 12 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    The end should not justify the means. They should have released the software for jailbroken iPhones instead of going through this.



    They signed an NDA that explicitly stated that they could not distribute any app they developed with the iPhone SDK outside the Apple iTunes store, let alone develop an app that circumvented in acquiring video..
  • Reply 13 of 136
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPhoneCoder View Post


    I have absolutely no sympathy for Almerica. As an iPhone developer, I don't feel any disrespect from Apple. I understood the rules when I signed up.



    The ad hoc provisioning method was not intended to be used to sell software outside of the App Store. What Almerica is doing is disrespecting iPhone developers. Potentially causing Apple to disable Ad Hoc provisioning in defense and thereby making it difficult to beta test software outside of the developers own hardware.



    Good one. Apple told him to do it. Good one Steve.
  • Reply 14 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by g3pro View Post


    Hey Apple, I hope you're listening:



    Fuck you.



    Please stop screwing your developers.



    Once again, fuck you.



    Are you a developer? Then speak for yourself. We don't need your assistance.
  • Reply 15 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by g3pro View Post


    Uhhhh, nice first post. Are you sure you're not posting from the bowels of 1 Infinite Loop?



    If you are, can you please tell your bosses to stop fucking with developers? This is getting tiresome.



    Nice try!



    While I've developed for the Mac since 1988 and been to Apple on many occasions, attending coding workshops, I have never worked for Apple.



    I agree that it would be nice if Apple would establish clearer guidelines for apps. It would be great if Apple sped up the submittal and vetting process. I would also love it if they would put my apps, at the least, in the iTunes New apps section.



    Now I have 2 posts.
  • Reply 16 of 136
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post


    Are you a developer? Then speak for yourself. We don't need your assistance.



    Yes, I am. A developer for OTHER platforms as well.



  • Reply 17 of 136
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:

    "virtual monopoly"



    Ah, yes. As distinct from an "actual monopoly."



    In any case I do hope Apple makes their guidelines clear enough that people don't do work on app THINKING it will be allowed, only to find out very late that they can't sell it!



    And of the well-known app rejections, NetShare is the only rejection I can agree with. It's also the only rejected app I myself would actually want... ironically enough.
  • Reply 18 of 136
    In may years of dealing with Apple on many issues, it has always been my experience that if you go about making your case in a civil verifiable manner and genuinely are reasonable, Apple will do the right thing. I have had countless customer satisfaction and technical issues satisfied.



    That said arrogance , impatience and demands for immediate knee jerk action will most certainly not get you anywhere.



    Apple is a company that is regularly venturing into uncharted territory - it takes time to iron out wrinkles. It is unreasonable to expect immediate perfection of everything . Yeah we were supposed to all be perfect and I'm sure that all the righteous screamers are, but forgive those that aren't we need to digest all the details. The devil is in the details.



    Chill
  • Reply 19 of 136
    I personally find the larger problem to be the conflicts between the app store model and almost any open source software. This denies developers the ability to port or expand upon already well established projects that could be maintained and improved upon by a community.
  • Reply 20 of 136
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPhoneCoder View Post


    I have absolutely no sympathy for Almerica. As an iPhone developer, I don't feel any disrespect from Apple. I understood the rules when I signed up.



    Amen. They either didn't read Apple's terms, ignored them, or didn't understand them.



    There's an effort to bring Frodo, the Commodore 64 emulator, to the iPhone. I have pointed out several times that such a port would violate Apple's developer terms, as Frodo would enable folks to run interpreted third-party code -- a big no-no.



    Fellow developers: reading English code is as important as reading Objective-C. Learn to do so and you'll save yourself time, resources, and bitter words.
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