If you refuse to play by Apple’s rules, you have to leave the store. The pop­u­lar Pix­elpipe appli­ca­tion was removed last week sim­ply because the devel­op­ers dared to scan the con­tents of the DCIM-folder, which enables the users to select mul­ti­ple pic­tures (or videos) at once. Even though this folder sim­ply con­tains the user’s own pho­tos, Apple requires to use the offi­cial (single-select) API. Weird and sad but true: the soft­ware was removed after a third party pro­gram­mer had filed a complaint.

Pixelpipe iPhone AppThe times when Apple was the only man­u­fac­turer of styl­ish touch-screen phones are gone: count­less devel­op­ers are cod­ing Android apps, Nokia is try­ing to kick-start the OVI store and Microsoft will be enter­ing the mar­ket later this year with their new Win­dows phone. As long as Steve Jobs was able to dic­tate all the rules, devel­op­ers had to obey Apple’s extremely restric­tive pol­icy: While appli­ca­tions can only be dis­trib­uted via the offi­cial mar­ket­place, Apple crip­ples access to the var­i­ous sub­sys­tems. Pro­grams, for exam­ple, can not access text mes­sages directly, 3rd party appli­ca­tions have to rely on the notification-service.

And if you get cre­ative, you’re kicked out. Last week the Pix­elpipe app which enables users to dis­trib­ute their mobile media in a very sim­ple way, was removed from the shop. Pix­el­brett explains the rea­sons on the offi­cial blog:

After over a year in the iPhone App Store and a half dozen sep­a­rate approved sub­mis­sions, Apple has unfor­tu­nately decided to remove our appli­ca­tion from the store. While I admit we were cut­ting some cor­ners to pro­vide func­tion­al­ity out­side the API we were not using any pri­vate APIs & just being cre­ative with-in the bounds of the of the pub­lic media direc­tory.
What were we doing wrong? Sim­ply scan­ning the con­tents of the DCIM direc­tory to cre­ate a list of the pho­tos & video. This pro­vided our users with the capa­bil­ity to quickly multi-select any media from their photo gallery for upload instead of the one at a time func­tion­al­ity pro­vided with-in the offi­cial API.

Apple didn’t ini­tially ban the pro­gram, a third party devel­oper had filed a com­plaint. While Brett explains that Apple was act­ing fair by giv­ing Pix­elpipe one week to code the nec­es­sary changes, the time span was too short — so it will take a while until the app, which is now rewrit­ten, will be avail­able again.

This control-freakish busi­ness model explains why Android’s pop­u­lar­ity is increas­ing so rapidly. Also, at Mix con­fer­ence Microsoft announced a cou­ple of shiny new devel­op­ment tools for the Win­dows phone which they’re giv­ing away for free — as a way of encour­ag­ing pro­gram­mers to make full use of the hard­ware and the OS. Apple chose the oppo­site path and forces their part­ners and devel­op­ers into a strict rule set that hardly lever­ages inno­va­tion. I won­der if this chang­ing marked will force Apple to change their strat­egy. What’s your opinion?