Can a maverick iPhone developer, snubbed by Apple, open a grey market for other iPhone software that Apple doesn’t want to sell? Maybe, but probably not for long.
For more than a week, coder Alex Sokirynsky has been selling his Apple-rejected “Podcaster” app via PayPal for $10 a pop — distributing the software via Apple’s “ad hoc” method, which lets a limited number of people install an iPhone app without buying it through the official iTunes store.
Now Sokirynsky wants to help other developers — likely including others snubbed by Apple (AAPL), like Angelo DiNardi, whose “MailWrangler” app for GMail was recently rejected — use the same method to sell and distribute their apps.
On Twitter, Sokirynsky recently tweeted, “Soon I will have a system for others to distribute apps via ad hoc method. Users of my app will not need to sign up again with udid. Cool!”
Translation: iPhone owners won’t have to look up and submit their phone’s unique device ID (“udid”) — not the easiest thing to find/type — each time they want to get an ad hoc app from a different developer. Translation: Sokirynsky is, in effect, creating a grey market for iPhone apps.
We’re not sure how he hopes to achieve this technically, but for argument’s sake, let’s say it’s something that could be accomplished. Would it last? Probably not.
Since Steve Jobs announced last fall that Apple would be selling third party apps for the iPhone, it’s been very clear that it would be a 100% Apple-controlled process. So while we’re sympathetic for developers like Sokirynsky and DiNardi — whose apps were rejected by Apple for anti-competitive reasons — we doubt Apple would let any grey market last.
We don’t think Apple will remove the ad hoc distribution method — it’s a valuable testing tool — but the company could easily limit it — or simply revoke offending developers’ abilities to authorise code for official ad hoc installation.
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