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Apple Blindsides More AppStore Developers 716

Posted by kdawson
from the moving-walls-and-stairways-too dept.
For a while now Apple has said it doesn't want "widget-like" apps in the store; but where is the boundary of that fuzzy statement? The developers of My Frame, of which three versions had already been approved for the iPhone/iPad, found out that they had already crossed it when Apple informed them their app would be pulled. My Frame had options to overlay data on whatever photo was displaying: a Twitter stream, weather, etc. When one of the developers wrote to Steve Jobs on a whim to ask what unwritten rule their app had violated, Jobs wrote back: "We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry." "I see now why people are so angry at the 'murky' nature of the App Store, and I'm starting to agree with them. My Frame was approved by Apple 3 times (once for each version we released), and ... now, at version 1.2 they decide it's to be removed? How can a company be prepared to invest into a platform that can change at any time, cutting you off and kicking you out, with no course of action but to whine on some no-name blog[?] There is no alternative platform, despite what others may say about Android, it's immature and their app store(s) are a wild west nightmare. It really is Apple's way or the highway...." A few blogs have picked up the story.
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Apple Blindsides More AppStore Developers

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  • Fine Line Indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:53PM (#32422762)
    I have some guys here at work who use their iPhones for VNC quite religiously. VNC is a tad bit closer to "its own desktop" than this app, granted it is a snapshot of another machine's desktop. Where do you draw the line, Mr. Jobs?
  • Really, kdawson? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:54PM (#32422772)

    My Frame hsd options to overlay data on whatever . . .
     
    That's the kind of typo that you catch when simply *skimming* over a paragraph. You didn't even read through it once, did you? Doesn't surprise me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:55PM (#32422798)

    Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series is an amazing platform. I'm more than excited to sell my iPhone and get one that supports the new Microsoft platform when they come out. I think developers will find that Microsoft has really given everyone a better option besides Apple...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:58PM (#32422848)

    So I just looked on the App Store and their application is there at version 1.2. Did they just rant prematurely?

  • Sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anon-Admin (443764) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @03:58PM (#32422854) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like what Second Life did. I used to play the game with SL, developed in-world items and scripts. Every time I started to make money at it, SL would make the script "Illegal", discontinue some function I was using, start giving the same thing away for free or start charging for something that was free. All in all the moving target made it impossible to work in the environment. Thus, I stopped and walked away.

    If Apple starts changing the rules and making the environment less appealing for the developers then they will move, unlike second life there are competitors and other opportunities.

  • Troubling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:01PM (#32422916) Homepage

    It seems to me that this is troubling for the developer, but it's also troubling for the customers. It means that users have bought applications that suddenly have no possibility of being maintained properly. Bugs will never be fixed. New features will never come. It turns iTunes into a fairly risky marketplace.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:02PM (#32422930) Journal
    He's calling him out. At best he'll trigger Jobs to outline his logic similar to the Flash issue. At worst his concerns fall on deaf ears. But for the rest of us, it might be a little pointer in the right direction.

    Jobs wants to maintain complete control with the experience on iDevices and the second you try to make your application look more capable than just a regular application in the sense of altering look and feel, you're stepping on his turf and he will show up with the ban hammer. Jobs is not interested in a new container for viewing or looking like an operating system catching like wildfire and usurping Apple's bread and butter: being the best, fluid, sexy interface. That's how they make their money. That's one of the big components that justifies a massive price point on these products. That's a lot of Jobs' strategy and I think a lot of people know it including the shareholders.

    So the strategy to publicly ponder how far this will go ... or where the precise line will be drawn for what an application can and can't do is 1) interesting and 2) a potential time saver for new application developers. You want to make a new look and feel? The message is loud and clear: either do it on the immature Android operating system or don't do it at all. And that advice stands until Jobs apologizes and approves applications like My Frame.
  • Re:Android... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thepike (1781582) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:03PM (#32422954)
    Yeah, the only thing I would really add to the Android App market is the ability to search it easily online. That hardly makes it a "Wild West nightmare" though.
  • by SkankinMonkey (528381) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:06PM (#32423008)
    His point was that Australians can't sell apps on the marketplace yet, which he clarified in his comments.
  • Re:It's time. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:08PM (#32423048) Journal

    I wish there was a 'bring to the attention of the slashmods' button..

    Report it for abuse. If you get reprimanded in any way, it'll still be worth it.

  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:10PM (#32423086)

    Apple is famous for its rigid control over its devices, in its quest to maintain user quality.

    You know, the sad thing is, I remember a time when it wasn't true. When I preferred to use the Macs in the computer lab at the university over the PC's specifically because I could carry around a floppy full of extensions that all I needed to do was drop into the extension folder and reboot and have a machine that looked and mostly worked completely different from any other Mac.

    Stuff like Kaleidoscope [kaleidoscope.net] were just the tip of the Iceberg, with the fact that 'hacking' resources on the Mac was a trivial task, you could customize almost anything you wanted in your apps. This is stuff that Windows never had and still doesn't.

    But then Steve had to go and get to the top of the hill, and it turned out that he was just a smarmier, better dressed Bill. That's sort of sad. Back when there really were two camps, really the only difference between the two was their fashion sense.

  • Re:It's time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TomXP411 (860000) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:14PM (#32423140)

    No... Bill should stay Borg. Microsoft is the precursor to the Borg: they want nothing less than to own every computer on the planet.

    Google is the precursor to SkyNet. Think about it: Google owns a huge network of systems employing AI routines to parse natural-language databases. One day, Google's search engine will become sentient. So perhaps a Google logo with those red eyes would be appropriate satire.

    Steve Jobs...he's more like Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon. He has immense power, but rather than use it for the betterment of his people (his customers), he makes arbitrary decisions for his own amusement. Attempts to appeal to him with logic fail. Attempts to sway his emotions fail. Even decisions that seem like they would harm Apple only make him stronger in the long run.

  • Re:Fine Line Indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sjonke (457707) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:15PM (#32423156) Journal

    Apparently you don't draw it at My Frame 1.2 seeing how it's in the App store. Who is writing these articles? Google?

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:26PM (#32423338) Journal

    Most people who bought an iPhone or iPad bought it for what it offered out of the box, plus some vague idea that there were also going to be "plenty of games and other cool things to download for it in the future". The fact that it's a "closed usage" platform isn't really a factor for most of us (myself included).

    It's pretty clear that Apple is "winging it" with a lot of this app store approval stuff. Things keep getting developed that they obviously didn't consider in advance, so while reviewing them, they're basically thinking, "Hmm.... is THIS particular thing something that could get in our way, down the road?" If they decide it is, then bam... no approval for you.

    But 90% of the time, the people I see complaining about this stuff were writing apps they should have known were pushing the boundaries in some way. EG. Don't try to re-invent or modify the look and/or functionality of any of the existing UI elements or applications. Don't try to create apps that add features to existing, basic functionality of the device either (such as trying to offer wireless iTunes syncing). Otherwise, you're deep into that gray area where Apple may, at any time, suddenly decide they dislike what you're doing.

    If your app brings something new and useful to an iPad/iPhone - then you should be just fine, assuming you followed the rules and didn't use off-limits APIs or something to build it.

    I doubt, for example, the guys bringing the Bento database to the iPhone/iPad had any issues, since the devices never had built-in database functionality before. I'm not aware of anyone having a lot of app approval issues when submitting apps allowing people to draw pictures with an iPhone/iPad either.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:27PM (#32423374) Homepage Journal

    Actually, he clarifies this in his comments on the blog post: Australians can't sell paid apps on the android marketplace yet.

    Google is a terrible retailer. I love my Nexus One, but buying it from Google demonstrated that they aren't good at selling things, or being a conduit for selling things.

    The marketplace is a good example. Us Canadians only recently got the ability to actually buy pay apps, and of course we (like most of the world) still don't have the ability to sell apps, at least with Google handling the transaction.

    Which is why many apps have gone to either ad support, or some sort of activation key that you buy from a more world-capable transaction enabler like PayPal.

  • Re:Fine Line Indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:28PM (#32423392)

    The guy this has happened to made a blog post earlier today explaining that Apple have told him the App is getting pulled: http://shiftyjelly.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/sentence-first-verdict-afterwards/ [wordpress.com]

    Do you believe that he's lying, or Apple that have decided not to go through with pulling it? Most reasonable explanation for it still being up seems to be that they just haven't pulled it yet.

  • by hitmark (640295) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:35PM (#32423500) Journal

    i swear, both apple and google are badly mismanaging their respective app stores.

    still, there are alternatives to android marketplace. http://slideme.org/ [slideme.org] is probably the biggest, with http://andappstore.com/AndroidApplications/apps/!index [andappstore.com] close behind.

  • by gumbi west (610122) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:36PM (#32423512) Journal

    The app is still live on the store. I wonder if this isn't just a great marketing stunt?
      queue, "2)???"

  • by m509272 (1286764) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:41PM (#32423606)

    Unless of course Apple is making you walk away as in cases like this. You pay your entrance fee, you run 99.9% of the race and then Apple looks you over at the finish line and says you ran this racing wearing red sneakers and we don't like red sneakers. Thank you for your $99, your purchase of various iProds and a Mac, have a nice day. My advice to developers unless you have nothing better to do, walk away or don't get involved at all and no I'm not one of the rejected.

  • Re:It's time. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by painandgreed (692585) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @04:53PM (#32423762)

    Steve Jobs...he's more like Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon. He has immense power, but rather than use it for the betterment of his people (his customers), he makes arbitrary decisions for his own amusement. Attempts to appeal to him with logic fail. Attempts to sway his emotions fail. Even decisions that seem like they would harm Apple only make him stronger in the long run.

    Actually, I'd say that Apple is more like the Federation. They are using their power for what they see as the betterment of their people. They have all these rules as to how society should be run: no money, no alcohol, etc. If you ever want to join Star Fleet and move up in the ranks, you'd better be in line with all those rules. However, if you don't want to follow the rules, you can always just pack up and head to uncharted territories or join the borg, and they won't stop you.

  • by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:13PM (#32424048) Homepage

    That's going to happen to Apple soon enough. There are already multiple processor speeds and RAM amounts. The next version is expected to be a different resolution, as well as having new hardware (front-facing camera.) The new iPhone OS will not fully support all iPhone devices, limiting the usefulness of some apps on these devices. There's also no word yet whether or not (or how) the API gracefully degrades on phones which do not support such features.

    I suspect that with both phones, you will be able to target the lowest common denominator. This is something I see in the Android market already, though some developers who can't figure out a way to generalize their code just release versions specific to each device.

  • Re:Fine Line Indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by coolgeek (140561) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:18PM (#32424136) Homepage

    Great viral marketing, imo

  • Region coding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @05:23PM (#32424200) Homepage Journal

    there's ONE official Android app store.

    Which isn't open to every country, not even every industrialized country. Most developers don't want to have to go through a supported country's immigration process just to be able to sell apps.

  • But these engineers and bloggers are some serious whiners. If Wal-Mart or Target or any large store or any store, for that matter, stops carrying some real-world product, does it make it onto slashdot? Hell no! Because that's the nature of business. Your customers can stop buying your product at any time, even when those customers are resellers. Why do these people feel that it is their God-given right to sell products through these istores or whatever?

    Talk to any successful business owner about the concept of having only one customer for you business and they'll say you're stupid.

  • Re:It's time. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:00PM (#32424674)

    "Steve Jobs...he's more like Emperor Ming from Flash Gordon. He has immense power, but rather than use it for the betterment of his people (his customers), he makes arbitrary decisions for his own amusement. Attempts to appeal to him with logic fail. Attempts to sway his emotions fail. Even decisions that seem like they would harm Apple only make him stronger in the long run."

    Seems too malicious. I'm thinking more like the Vorlons in B5. They *do* want what's best for you, but are maybe a little too authoritarian and interfering in their approach. Oh, plus short and cryptic really works. Jobs: "We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry." Kosh: "You are not ready for immortality."

    Sounds about right. Kinda hard to combine Jobs head with a Vorlon for a new icon, though. It would have to be different for everyone. Hmmm... wait a second. No. It can't be. The reality distortion field!?!?!?!?!

  • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @06:00PM (#32424684) Homepage

    An even worse problem is that Apple's followers don't seem to see a problem with Apple keeping the rules secret from the developers writing for Apple's platform.

    I'm having a huge argument with a friend right now about this. He thinks it would be a huge PR mistake for Apple to publish concrete, clear App Store submission rules, and that therefore they shouldn't do it. (His reason? People would be pissed about all the exceptions to the rules that Apple makes for wealth developers.)

    And he doesn't have a problem with Apple favoring wealthy app developers even when it harms the independent and small business developers.

    (If you're curious, we were talking about Apple's "no scripting" rule, which they conveniently ignore for developers like EA and PopCap.)

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @03:05AM (#32428600)

    Except ironically it's the Apple store which is the wild west. I've read numerous times about companies going bankrupt because their accounts were suspended and all their apps were pulled from the market place.

    Thanks but no thanks. I've rather play it safe then sorry.

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