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Apple cracks down on rogue app stores

iPhone T&Cs switcheroo to smother competition

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Apple has launched a pre-emptive strike on stores selling unauthorised iPhone applications, by changing the terms and conditions of the iPhone SDK to make authoring content for such sites against the rules.

The terms of Apple's iPhone SDK have been criticised as being too restrictive before, but this time Apple has added a clause specifically banning the distribution of content through rivals to the iTunes Application Store, as noted by Ars Technica:

(f) Applications developed using the Apple Software may only be distributed if selected by Apple (in its sole discretion) for distribution via the App Store or for limited distribution on Registered Devices (ad hoc distribution) as contemplated in this Agreement

This change to the rules, which also includes a clause prohibiting the creation of DRM-surmounting software, won't have much impact on the hard-core developers creating jailbreaking code or hacking tools. But it will scare off mainstream developers who might otherwise have been happy to have their applications sold through the Cydia store or similar, and that reduces the value of such stores considerably.

The move is a clever one by Apple: developers might rant about its draconian nature, but most users will simply notice that the iTunes store has the best range of apps they've heard of and thus see no reason to go elsewhere - killing off the competitive threat before it's even become a competitor. ®

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