Apple’s (AAPL) confusingly bad relations with some of its iPhone developers just cost it a talented coder: Alex Sokirynsky, whose “Podcaster” app was barred from Apple’s iPhone App Store because it allegedly is too similar to iTunes, is heading to rival Google’s (GOOG) Android platform, which launches today.
After getting rejected by Apple, Sokirynsky had been trying to distribute his podcast-downloading app using an “ad hoc” distribution system, selling the software for $10 a pop through PayPal — not via Apple’s official iPhone App Store. So it’s no surprise that Apple shut him down Monday by removing his ability to provision more devices for his app; he was probably violating Apple’s terms of service.
But it’s alarming how the company let things get so ugly without even a response. Sokirynsky:
All I wanted was for someone from Apple to contact me and tell me how we can work it out so that I get into the app store. Instead, Apple took the cowards way out by simply disabling features in my developers portal. This seems like a childish move for a company that has been proving such high quality service and products in the past.
A lot of people have speculated that Apple might incorporate features similar to Podcaster in the future. If they do, they will simply be stealing from developers (me in this case)…
I plan to make Podcaster for the Android operating system. At least there, I will be welcomed instead of being walked all over. I will also try to port the app to a jailbroken iPhone.
So a final note to developers. Try to stay out of Apple’s grey area. Don’t build anything that would compete with Apple. Don’t spend too much time before you submit to the app store because it could be all for nothing.
To be sure, Sokirynsky — and all iPhone developers — knew from the beginning that it was Apple’s app store, and that they were going to maintain total control over the platform. But the company still hasn’t explained why it thinks Podcaster is duplicating an existing iPhone feature — it isn’t — nor has Apple shown any progress toward an appeals process, or even clear definitions of what’s allowed and what isn’t.
This won’t cost Apple relationships with big-time developers like Electronic Arts (ERTS). But it will continue to alienate smaller shops who think they can improve on Apple’s products, and will increasingly send talented coders like Sokirynsky over to rival platforms. Can Apple afford to do that? We’re about to find out.
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