By now you probably have read about the issues with the Google Android-based mobile device platform (see “Android exploit so dangerous, users warned to avoid phoneâ€™s web browser” by Andrew Nusca at ZDnet).
You may have also read a whle back about Apple’s response to the U.S. Copyright Office that unauthorized alterations of the iPhone and iPod touch are violations (see “Apple: iPhone jailbreaking violates our copyright” by Tom Krazit at Cnet).
What’s missing is the link between these stories. On the one hand (Google Android), applications can appear on the platform overnight without any rigorous oversight, and some could introduce vulnerabilities that could be exploited.
On the other hand (Apple iPhone and iPod touch), the practice of rigorous oversight is exactly what Apple is trying to defend. Jailbreaking opens the Apple platform potentially to all kinds of lawless activity, and Apple doesn’t want that.
Apple has been criticized for kicking apps out of the App Store, and then (tentatively) bringing some of them back in when it looked like they wouldn’t be dangerous. I think it’s a wise policy. Apple also has a business to run, and a partner (AT&T) to work with. And guess what? So do other companies. Critics had pointed to Android as a free system, something that Apple should embrace, but just recently, Google also kicked apps out of its store — see Android tethering apps pulled from Market (Android Community). Google cited their distribution agreements with carriers as the prompt for removal.
It’s the same problem. Expect the new Blackberry App World to be similarly policed. The price of “freedom” (in this case, the ability to download very low cost apps to your phone, and the ability for developers to create them quickly and inexpensively) is constant vigilance.
This week’s interesting blips include:
Pirates Board Apple’s iPhone App Store (Gadget Lab from Wired.com). I’m angered by this, even though highly profitable developers dismiss it as a minor nuisance. Why target under-$5 apps? Do they have no ethics? They are not hurting Apple, only small developers. Shareware used to require a $5 or more donation.
RIM’s BlackBerry App Store Opens for Business
(InternetNews.com). You use PayPal to make purchases. We’re going to
see a lot more of these online app stores for different platforms.
Skype for iPhone: It’s official (CTIA show — CNET Reviews). I’m not really a user because I don’t invest much time changing my phone calling habits (I make calls rarely, mostly receive them and send email back). Also, Skype’s iPhone limits irk some consumer advocates (USATODAY.com)
What did these people expect? As AT&T pointed out, Skype “has no obligation to market AT&T services. Why should the reverse be true?” Well, AT&T, good luck holding back the hordes.