Apple decides which apps get approved for the iPhone/iPod touch App Store, provides little to no transparency on the process, prevents certain things like turn-by-turn GPS outright in the SDK agreement, and -- though they've yet to use them -- maintains black lists for GPS and malware that could remove any LocationServices or entire applications from iPhones everywhere. For this, and more, Apple has earned quite a bit of criticism -- and rightly so in many cases.
What if Apple went further, however. They sell officially unlocked iPhones in several regions, like Hong Kong. They also have a program that grants developers tethering abilities for testing. What if, one day, people with unlocked or developer iPhones woke up to find the Paid section of the App Store gone. What would the community reaction be? What should it be?
Google, whose "don't be evil" motto has been downgraded by management in recent years, is lauded for the openness of their Android Market (even though they're known to have a kill switch of their ownl -- to do otherwise would be irresponsible), yet our friends over at Android Central woke to find themselves in just such a situation this week. Paid apps. Gone.
We're told it's because of piracy concerns, that Google thinks developer units of the G1 make it easier for people to steal paid apps. Jeffdc5 on Twitter let us know developer G1 handsets could store apps on the SD memory card in addition to the on-device memory of the regular units, which could make them more pirate-able. However, we've seen that the iPhone -- with no external memory -- can have apps pirated as well, so is that readon enough? It smacks of the same "treat your customers as thieves" thinking that created DRM music, Microsoft Genuine Advantage, Sony rootkits, and Adobe invading our boot sectors...
Apple has already removed DRM from iTunes music, and has now removed product keys from boxed versions of iLife 09 and iWork 09 as well. It seems to be working out none too badly for them.
Openness is definitely A Good Thing. Maybe trust in your user base should be as well?