After having squelched more controversial applications, including the “Murderdrome” comic book and a fart joke application dubbed “Pull My Finger,” Apple turned around and banned Alex Sokirynsky's 'Podcaster' application from the iPhone App Store. Now, Alex Sokirynsky is using a feature of the iPhone/iPod Touch called “Ad Hoc App Distribution” to distribute his “Podcaster” application himself.
Sokirynsky's application -- an iPhone version of Podcaster.fm -- streams podcasts over Wi-Fi and EDGE wireless networks, allowing users to download the podcasts for offline access. As the official reason for banning Sokirynsky's Podcast, Apple claimed that “since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.”
“For example, any calculator app is duplicating the functionality of Apple's calculator app. Any app that tells you the weather is duplicating the Yahoo weather app. Any app that let's you listen to music is duplicating the iPod portion of the iPhone,” he wrote in a blog post. “There are also several apps that simply allow you to listen to a podcast (Diggnation and Mobility Today just to name a few) that are not denied from the App Store.”
In informal debates on the Web, a lot of other developers are siding with the Podcaster developer. “I will never write another iPhone application for the App Store as currently constituted,” wrote developer Fraser Speirs. “Apple is now selecting for anti-competitive reasons. It came to light today that an app that will deliver a capability I really, really want was rejected by Apple because it replaces a feature in Apple's own software.”