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iTunes’ AppStore Blacklist growing as another app is struck down by the Hand of Jobs

By RebelScum on 7 Aug 2008

Are you rich and wanna flaunt it?

If so, download “I Am Rich”, quite possibly the awesomest app ever. You see, what “I Am Rich” does for you, the everyday Rich person, is flaunt your richness by adding a fancy red jewel to your iphone that just declares “I AM RICH!” and absolutely nothing else. The application costs a mere $999.99, a pittance to be able to declare to the world that you are one of the elite few who can afford such unnecessary contrivances.

At least, that’s what you could have done yesterday, before Apple randomly decided that “I Am Rich” is not worthy of sale in its iTunes App Store.

The application has been added to Apple’s slowly growing blacklist of apps that were originally deemed sale-worthy through the service but have since been removed.

“I AM RICH” may be a useless toy, but some of the apps on the list are not. NullRiver had an app called “NetShare” which allowed for iPhone tethering, while “Now Playing” (née “Box Office”) took your GPS, got the showtimes of nearby cinemas and pulled the rating for your selected movie from Rotten Tomatoes. Useful, to say the least…and now banished to outside the wall.

ApplePresence seems to be extending even further with the release of iPhone OS 2.x, according to iPhone Atlas:

Apple has apparently included a blacklisting mechanism in iPhone OS 2.x via which the device can phone home, check for unauthorized applications, and disable them. The OS includes a URL that points to a page containing a list of unauthorized applications, specifically: https://iphone-services.apple.com/clbl/unauthorizedApps.

“This suggests that the iPhone calls home once in a while to find out what applications it should turn off. At the moment, no apps have been blacklisted, but by all appearances, this has been added to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down.

“I discovered this doing a forensic examination of an iPhone 3G. It appears to be tucked away in a configuration file deep inside CoreLocation.” (Jonathan Zdziarski).

As MrBlader of ModMyiPhone asks, “IS THIS NOT AN INVASION OF PRIVACY? I bought my phone for $600 from an apple store! Its Mine, and everything on it!”

Yes, MrBlader. Yes it is.

That Apple is controlling what you may and may not install on your personal device at ALL is offensive enough, but to hear that Apple can summarily decide to remove an application based on reasons that are purely company-internal, especially without explanation, definitely qualifies as an invasion of privacy, and could almost be considered theft. I downloaded it, I paid for it…it’s mine. That should be the end of it. IMHO, this practice is no different from Apple deciding one day that they don’t like Metallica, and sending out a bot to delete every Metallica song from every iPhone or iPod the next time it was connected to iTunes.

If that doesn’t bother you, it should. Imagine buying a computer, bringing it home, plugging it in, and only then being told that you were only allowed to surf half the Internet. Imagine buying a car, only to find out onthe way home that the stereo could only play easy listening. Or imagine buying a Windows Mobile device and suddenly discovering you weren’t allowed to install Windows Mobile applications on it. I know Apple is trying to keep its devices bug-and-virus free as much, and for as long, as possible (at least until they have a truly solid stake in the market share, I’m sure), but dictating user interaction goes well beyond the realm of fair use.

Apple’s Orwellian behaviour is disappointing to say the least. It’s certainly the last thing I expected from the company that launched itself with this famous ad.

When Apple stops dictating content, maybe then the iPhone will be able to take its place as a truely viable smartphone option. Until then: Long live The iPhone Dev Team!

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  • http://www.dougplanet.com Doug Groves

    Why people are even surprised by this is beyone me. When it was reported before the release that each iPhone would be uniquely identifiable through its internet address, and every push application would be pushing through Apple’s servers, it seemed pretty clear (at least to one who isn’t caught in the RDF) that these kinds of action would be coming down the pike.

    Forget the Dev Team. Long live just about any other smartphone platform. :D

  • http://laroquodexperiment.com Laroquod

    Hey — this is the first time I noticed this article! It was not ‘tuned’ in when this happened, but it looks like Apple was up to this stuff even before the Apps started to get more whimsical and artistic. I don’t get quite as fired up about certain utilities not making the cut, but when a store becomes a cultural space as well as a technological one, as the App Store obviously has, then it gets really disgusting to watch the hopefuls getting stepped on (and I don’t like it the way it happens rampantly in the world of gaming consoles, either, because that is definitely also a cultural space). Apple is handling this all wrong — they should be treating this more like the Music Store and less like the software shelf at the Apple Store.

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