Apple iStore limits: How Pixelpipe got kicked

If you refuse to play by Apple's rules, you have to leave the store. The popular Pixelpipe application was removed last week simply because the developers dared to scan the contents of the DCIM-folder, which enables the users to select multiple pictures (or videos) at once. Even though this folder simply contains the user's own photos, Apple requires to use the official (single-select) API. Weird and sad but true: the software was removed after a third party programmer had filed a complaint.

Pixelpipe iPhone AppThe times when Apple was the only manufacturer of stylish touch-screen phones are gone: countless developers are coding Android apps, Nokia is trying to kick-start the OVI store and Microsoft will be entering the market later this year with their new Windows phone. As long as Steve Jobs was able to dictate all the rules, developers had to obey Apple's extremely restrictive policy: While applications can only be distributed via the official marketplace, Apple cripples access to the various subsystems. Programs, for example, can not access text messages directly, 3rd party applications have to rely on the notification-service.

And if you get creative, you're kicked out. Last week the Pixelpipe app which enables users to distribute their mobile media in a very simple way, was removed from the shop. Pixelbrett explains the reasons on the official blog:

After over a year in the iPhone App Store and a half dozen separate approved submissions, Apple has unfortunately decided to remove our application from the store. While I admit we were cutting some corners to provide functionality outside the API we were not using any private APIs & just being creative with-in the bounds of the of the public media directory.
What were we doing wrong? Simply scanning the contents of the DCIM directory to create a list of the photos & video. This provided our users with the capability to quickly multi-select any media from their photo gallery for upload instead of the one at a time functionality provided with-in the official API.

Apple didn't initially ban the program, a third party developer had filed a complaint. While Brett explains that Apple was acting fair by giving Pixelpipe one week to code the necessary changes, the time span was too short – so it will take a while until the app, which is now rewritten, will be available again.

This control-freakish business model explains why Android's popularity is increasing so rapidly. Also, at Mix conference Microsoft announced a couple of shiny new development tools for the Windows phone which they're giving away for free – as a way of encouraging programmers to make full use of the hardware and the OS. Apple chose the opposite path and forces their partners and developers into a strict rule set that hardly leverages innovation. I wonder if this changing marked will force Apple to change their strategy. What's your opinion?

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