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Well, it seems that in addition to problems with MobileMe, Apple is getting into some gray area with AppStore.  Applications are appearing, disappearing without explanation to the authors.  The one that got more attention was NetShare, an app that purports to enable tethering of your iPhone 3G.  However despite it being available (actually for me clicking on the link it wasn’t even available then) it seems to be performing one of Criss Angel’s greatest feats in appearing/disappearing at will (or at Steve Jobs’ request).

The latest app to fall to this scenario and be removed from the AppStore without explanation is BoxOffice.  The developer of BoxOffice posted a plea on MacForums:

Apple pulled the app yesterday without giving my any notification that they were doing it, or what their justification was for removing it.

I've tried to contact them about the issue, but it's been a complete dead end. If anyone has a useful contact number for apple, please let me know.

I'm in regular contact with all my data providers, and none of them have had an issue with my app. Indeed, the response was the exact opposite. They like my app and have even asked if i would do custom application work for them in the future. Furthermore, all the data i use is licensed by the owners as 'free for non commercial use'. i.e. precisely what BoxOffice is. Source: MacForums

Here’s my guesses (and only guesses):

1) NetShare pulled because of violation of AT&T terms.  I can’t cite them specifically but I’m pretty sure there is some fine print about tethering and normal use.  Heck AT&T sells a tethering option on some of their devices so I’m sure their crafty attorneys have legalese in their normal terms for 3G devices like iPhone about tethering. 

2) BoxOffice – pulled because it is Open Source licensed under the GPLv2.  BoxOffice has had it’s code up there on Google Code for a while.  Could this be a sign that Apple is now getting around to tightening their reigns on their terms and that OSS applications would not be allowed?  Or perhaps because he has a ‘Donate’ button in the app and Apple can’t get their chocolaty fingers on any donations (which probably violates the terms anyway-however other apps do the same thing).  I can’t wait to see what Cyrus hears back regarding BoxOffice and why it was removed.  And if he does receive that reason…will WordPress follow next?

What gives with updates?

The AppStore model was an exciting one.  I say was becuase I’m starting to see some faults.  This whole appearing/disappearing thing without communication to the authors is frustrating.  Even if they are in violation of whatever terms…a communication to the author is something that should occur.  “Hey you are violating terms XYZ, if you want to be listed in the AppStore you need to patch your software and re-submit.”  Is that so hard?

The other pain I’m seeing is updating.  While the AppStore seemed a great model, the update model sucks big time.  Authors have to go through the same process to submit an update it seems as they would a new app.  For real?  So 1.0 to 1.1 takes forever?  Is that a model that is acceptable to the security world?  What if someone found an exploit in Super Monkey Ball that it was actually taking your contacts and passing them around somewhere?  The v1.x patch has to go through a similar process of a new app?  Seems strange.

The other updating just seems hokey to me.  It really isn’t enabling a software+services model.  One case is the apps that provide reference.  For example, I downloaded the Spanish phrase app (handy by the way).  Let’s say the authors want to add more phrases.  They have to release a whole other app!  I have to download/install a whole other app.  Why can’t the author have their own update mechanism like other real software?!  Imagine if that every time your favorite app was updated you had to completely re-install it each time.  Ridiculous right?  Why should an iPhone app be any different.  Enabling this model of auto-updating should be added to their SDK to enable authors to quickly provide patches and incremental updates to their applications without the AppStore getting in the way.

Well, it is interesting to see how Apple is going through these pains in their new adventures.

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