The Curious Case of iVidCam - Should Two Wrongs Make an Acceptance?

Short story: GP Apps made iVidCam, a video recording app. Apple rejected it for using undocumented APIs. The developers appealed on the grounds that other camera-related apps also use undocumented APIs and demanded Apple allow it in, and let them sell it for 2 months before Apple released their own video recording functionality, as anticipated for WWDC 2009. Apple thanked them for pointing out other API violators, said they would investigate, and let the rejection stand.

Long story, including personal response from Apple VP of marketing, Phil Schiller: See

It's hard not to sympathize with GP Apps given the amount of hard work and obvious passion they've put into iVidCam. They've made 680(!) other apps already and had them approved in the App Store.

It's hard to sympathize with Apple, whose App Store approval policies remain opaque and seemingly capricious to the point we're amazed developers have any hair left.

But here's the thing: the app is in clear violation of App Store policy. If Apple keeps the other violating apps in the store, GP Apps could clearly argue fairness, but if Apple investigates and removes the other apps, that's a done deal. Basing significant development resources on the shaky foundation of others getting away with something is harder to sympathize with. It's more of a gamble than an investment.

In other words, if several people jaywalk in front of us, and we get caught, we're still getting the ticket. And demanding that the cop not give us the ticket, and give us two months of unmolested jaywalking privileges on top of it... Well, we admire the hutzpah, but when the cop's name is Apple, we don't see it getting us too far.

Still, we wish GP Apps good luck. If those APIs are made public (as happened with the undocumented API's Google was using), and Apple restricts their built-in video functionality to third generation hardware, we expect it will iVidCam may still appeal to a lot of iPhone 2G and iPhone 3G owners.

What do you think?

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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

The Curious Case of iVidCam - Should Two Wrongs Make an Acceptance?


You left out the part where Apple repeatedly featured apps using the same infringing APIs on the front page of the App Store. To keep with your analogy, if the police station gave each jaywalker in front me of the key to the city and a plaque celebrating how fast they crossed the street, then yes, I might think that I would at least avoid a ticket.
That still makes it a gamble on GPSApp's part, but not a reckless one. The platform and App Store are still riding high -- and deservedly so -- but as other phones catch up there is going to come a time where Apple's lack of consistency and fairness is going to drive talented developers to other platforms first.

Life does not have to be fair, but it has a way of balancing itself, and corporate arrogance always -- eventually -- comes home to roost.
Platform companies that treat their partners/developers arbitrarily eventually see those communities and developers leave for greener pastures, even if those fields are only "good enough", not technically equal. It happened from Mac->Windows, and, if Apple is not careful, it is going to happen from iPhone->(Android? Pre? Symbian? Something else?)

Put it in Cydia, they have a store now, but you'd compete with CyCorder. Not sure if that's against your other apps that actually made it to the App Store.

This guy's a whiner. Apple is right on this one. His other apps look like a case of quantity over quality.