iPhone developer bypasses App Store to sell banned Podcaster

After Apple turns down his app, Alex Sokirynsky uses iPhone beta-test mechanism to distribute his software

A week after Apple rejected his iPhone application and barred it from selling on the App Store, developer Alex Sokirynsky has turned to a little-known, but still Apple-approved, distribution channel to sell his work.

Sokirynsky, who in August submitted his Podcaster application to Apple for inclusion in the company's App Store -- the company's online iPhone mart where programs can be downloaded, some for free and some not -- received the rejection notice last Thursday.

Apple's rejection was to the point. "Today I finally got a reply from Apple about the status of Podcaster. The Apple rep said, 'Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes'," Sokirynsky said in a post to his blog. "That's right folks, it duplicates the functionality of the desktop version of iTunes."

ITunes, which is available in versions for Windows and Mac OS X, connects to Apple's online music store, plays music and other audio and video content, and synchronizes the iPhone to data, including music, stored on the computer.

Podcaster allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to subscribe to, manage, download and listen to podcasts without first downloading them in iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC.

"I was very surprised," Sokirynsky said today in an e-mail. He cited several examples of similar overlap -- calculator applications, for example, as well as other music-playing applications -- where Apple has allowed third-party developers to sell their wares on the App Store.

The online reaction last week to Sokirynsky's rejection was overwhelming negative, with one iPhone developer flatly saying he was through with Apple. "I will never write another iPhone application for the App Store as currently constituted," said Fraser Speirs in a post of his own last Friday.

Speirs called on Apple to publish clear rules for what will be accepted and what will not, and to add some kind of pre-approval procedure to the App Store application process.

"You have to wonder if Apple wants the App Store to be a museum of poorly designed nibware written by dilettante Mac OS X/iPhone OS switcher-developers and hobbyist students," Speirs said. "That's what will happen if companies who intend to invest serious resources in bringing an original idea to the App Store are denied a reasonable level of confidence in their expectation of profit."

Sokirynsky said he appreciated the support from Speirs and other bloggers who railed at Apple last week. "I'm happy that he is taking such a stand," Sokirynsky said. "He is saying that we want change, some clear rules and better communication and a faster response.

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Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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