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iPhone apps selling like hot cakes

As long as Apple likes the recipe

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Apple has been selling $1m worth of iPhone apps every day, Steve Jobs told the Wall Street Journal. He also confirmed Apple's ability to reach out and disappear applications previously installed on punters' iPhones.

Steve informed the Journal that more than 60 million apps have been downloaded through the Application Store. While most of those have been freebies, the store turned over about $30m in the last month, of which Apple gets 30 per cent - enough to cover its costs. That's despite the company spiking some applications they had previously approved.

The only legitimate way to get applications onto an iPhone or iPod Touch is through the iTunes Application Store, and Apple plays storekeep, deciding what apps go on the shelves. Some developers have been decidedly miffed to discover their applications were available one day, but vanished the next when the boys in Cupertino had a change of heart.

Some, such as BoxOffice, disappear without apparent reason - in that instance the developer was left to beg in the Mac Forums for help. Even where an explanation is forthcoming it might be hard to fathom, like the Slasher application that was removed because it features an image of a knife - apparently offensive by today's standards.

Apple has no obligation to explain itself or follow any kind of consistent rules, but the company isn't going to endear itself to developers by spiking applications without warning or explanation.

Steve also confirmed that every iPhone calls home every now and then, and that the company can uninstall applications that it decides are no longer appropriate. He claimed such a capability is necessary to remove malicious applications that previously passed muster.

Of course, if you trust Apple implicitly then none of this is a bother. But when the rules are unclear and the power one-sided, one has to wonder who is watching the watchers - and while a benign dictatorship might be an excellent form of government, it's much harder to achieve in practice than in theory. ®

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