Apple has had an interesting month since its launch of the new iPhone, the App Store, and MobileMe. MobileMe is an admitted ““work in progressÃ¢â‚¬Â that costs users $99 a year to participate in. The new iPhone is showing some cracks, (literally and figuratively), while selling like crazy even with inventory problems. But up until now, the App Store was getting by with generally good reviews, even with some bugginess and issues; some of which seem to have been resolved with a new firmware update.
But now it looks like Apple might have bitten off more than it can chew in the App Store as well. From my vantage point I see two problems. First, Apple’s secrecy, and penchant for hiding behind closed walls, is leading to confusion among consumers trying to purchase apps, as well as the developers who create them. Second, Apple’s DRM legacy, apparently has reared its ugly head, just as Apple promised it would when it came to the App store. Apple is now in the process of removing apps remotely that don’t adhere to some standards from iPhones. Take for example the the legend of NetShare. It has led a short and colorful life as an iPhone app. This application that allowed users to tether their laptop to their iPhone was available, then not available, then available again, without even the developers receiving a clue from Apple as to what was going on. Now it appears that NetShare, and any other app that doesn’t live up to some standards set by Apple, can be remotely removed from your device after you’ve purchased it. The jury is still out if you receive an automatic credit for this, or you have to run the support gauntlet to get your dough back.
The right hand just doesn’t know what the left hand is doing here and consumers and developers are caught in the middle of what is looking more and more like a 3 Stooges slap fest. Apple prides itself on its control of things. Remember that’s why in the beginning they didn’t want 3rd party stuff on the original iPhone, it was all about control. OK, great. Control things. But, er um.. if you’re going to control things, don’t let offending applications make it into your store in the first place. Seems simple, right? I would think so. But apparently Apple is either too swamped to do this in some sane fashion, or just doesn’t care. Either way it is no way to run a railroad.
The bottom line here is this. Apple has a good, no great, thing going. Whether through sloppiness or design they are in the process of mucking it up.
UPDATE: It appears the article I linked to has been updated and that Terry White has said the disappearance of NetShare may have been removed due to “bad timing.” OK, fair enough. I think the larger point still remains though. Apple stated up front when they launched the App store that they could in fact remove an app if it misbehaved. Those are ther rules if you want to play. But, who defines misbehavior and when? Apple? AT&T? And why can’t that get defined before loading an app into the App Store in the first place? Again, right hand, left hand.