PodcasterGate: The Great App Rejection Debate

Seems it wasn't a hair that broke the blogerati's back, it was an App. Or more precisely, it was Apple's denial of the Podcaster App that let loose the floodgates of negative internet reaction. Or even more precisely, it is the continued lack of certainty among developers as to what can and will be denied by Apple, leading many to reconsider the return on investment of hours upon hours of coding with 11th hour rejection hanging perpetually over their heads, like a virtual Sword of Damocles.

According to Read Write Web, Podcaster will be turning to Ad Hoc to distribute their App for nowwhile everyone from Daring Fireball to Roughly Drafted cover (and in some cases, recover from) the various comments and implications flinging back and forth across the blogsphere, the New York Times has decided to escalate the attention level:

I can’t see how distributing the program will hurt Apple. If anything it will make the iPhone a tad more valuable. On the other hand, treating developers capriciously is most certainly going to discourage them from spending nights and weekends working on new and useful applications that may give more people reasons to buy an iPhone.

Sure, the App Store is growing twice as fast as iTunes Music (though starting from zero is an easy way to generate an opening curve), and may well hit a billion units moved by 2009, but with Android's open marketplace on the horizon, and Microsoft me-too'ing their way in with Skymarket, there could be alternatives. If Apple doesn't take a page from their MobileMe fiasco playbook and rapidly standardize and clarify the rules of the game, they could lose their early lead. And that could cost them the Mobile Internet Platform dominance they so currently crave.

Don't get us wrong. It's Apple's platform and they, like a Nintendo with the Wii, have the absolute right to approve or deny anything developed for their platform. But developers have the same right to stop developing for a platform they don't think serves their best interests. And consumers have the same right to stop buying it for the same reason. As with the Blacklist push-back, that will be the ultimate officiator of this debate.

And a terse one-line email from Steve may not fix things if Apple waits too long...

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

PodcasterGate: The Great App Rejection Debate


Well, the other thing this whole issue does is focus more attention on the Jailbroken dev community. If Apple's intent really is to build a developer community (which I question due to the NDA) then the best way is to keep the process as transparent as possible. Right now, you toss things over the wall and then duck to see if it comes flying back at you.

I had been waiting for the Podcaster app (would have been my first app to buy) to be approved and am now thinking maybe I should have waited for Google Android.
Why does Apple consistently come close to perfect but always mucks something up in the end? (i.e. AppleTV should have had DVR functionality, original iPod Touch should have had speaker/mic from getgo, etc.)

Does it seem strange to anyone else that when a company like Microsoft (who hasn't even locked down the platform - you can always install linux or others) - just bundles their own apps with their OS, everybody treats it like they've just slaughtered a bunch of babies - but when Apple makes a closed platform - explicitly denies anyone the right to compete with them (which must be just simply illegal) and stomps on anything which may benefit the consumers but hurt their income - we just say it's "their platform". Double standards or what. I'm not saying Microsoft hasn't done evil things, but compared to what Apple is currently doing, they look ready to be canonized.

Apple doesn't view the iPhone as a computer, but as a device more like a Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, or traditional mobile phone.
Microsoft certainly controls the Xbox platform, as Nintendo does the Wii and DS.
Is it illegal that I can't make any PSP game I want? No. But it can be very annoying to consumers and developers alike.
There are real issues here, but I worry they may get lost in the hyperbole.

I wonder about the development of Apple's products and Apps that are already in place. For example, take Pandora and "Genius" playlists in iTunes... since Pandora offers a similar service, is it going to get tossed out now that iTunes offers a similar, competitive product?
Interestingly, it reminds me of World of Warcraft and their open UI. As WoW updated, some apps became outdated because WoW looked at what users were creating and they integrated the best ideas into their own. Which is fine, but now we're talking about developers that are trying to sell a product. It just doesn't seem very encouraging...

Seriously, Microsoft is really losing it in the evil stakes these days. They used to be really good at evil. Now Apple is kicking their backsides for evil. When Steve Jobs goes "MuWAAAhahahaha!", the brainwashed minions listen. His henchmen are really loyal, not just getting paid to be. Poor Ballmer.