The Broken Record Keeps Playing: Why Apple’s App Store Approval Process is Broken

I feel like we’re a bit of a broken record on this topic, but I just don’t think people are grasping how big of a deal this really is. So let me say it right up front so you know what I think: Apple’s App Store approval process is broken and seriously must be fixed if they want to continue fostering a thriving marketplace.

Last week, my article on farting iPhone apps presented the question, “Where should Apple draw the line or should they draw a line at all?”. Comments ranged from “Apple needs to lighten up” to “You seriously think Apple should have let a farting iPhone in the store?” (as well as a “how is this more important that war, life, and death?”, but I digress). 

Then this week a “legitimate” application, Podcaster, was rejected. This time it was on the basis that “it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.” Basically, it competes with Apple so back off.

The issue here is not one of application quality and it is not one of usefulness or utility. It is an issue of a fair and thriving marketplace where iPhone/iPod touch users get the best quality applications and the developers get an honest opportunity to make some dang money.

“But what does that mean Josh?,” you ask. Well, gather ’round.
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YouTube Holds Auditions for Red Carpet Reporter

People.com has just launched a channel on YouTube along with a Revlon-sponsored competition to co-host red carpet footage from the Emmy Awards this year. YouTube is heralding the deal as its first-ever co-branded competition, which is significant, because usually people come to YouTube to reach a big audience, not the other way around. People.com had 9.2 million unique visitors in May while YouTube had 66 million, according to comScore.

If you want to chat up celebs on the red carpet this fall, you’d better do your best to keep your cool while you interview friends and family for a 2-4 minute audition clip to be submitted on YouTube by July 21. Finalists will undergo the democratic gauntlet on YouTube and People.com. The prize is a trip to LA, plus hair, makeup, and access.

WORKetc Offers an End to Single Purpose Web Apps

worketc logoDepending upon your business, you may use a multitude of web services to keep things running smoothly. One for invoicing, another for project management, yet another for time tracking, contacts, support, etc… Even if you can get them to integrate at some level, managing all of your information in multiple apps can be a challenge.

Wouldn’t it be grand to have everything in one place? The folks at WORKetc think so, and with a signifcant upgrade to their Veetro service, they are making the declaration that “Single Purpose Web Apps Are Dead!

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Site Creation and Social Networking from MOLI

MOLI home pageI recently reviewed the drag-and-drop Web-based site building tool Webon and marveled at its ease of use and add-on features. I’m equally as impressed with MOLI, a social networking management tool and so much more. According to their site, MOLI is

a next-generation social networking site where members can manage multiple profiles in one account. Members can separate their social, business and family relationships and keep control over their privacy.

I don’t think the company’s own description of MOLI does the service justice. The site targets both the individual user as well as small business owners and provides the tools to create multimedia, interactive, collaborative and commerce-driven sites.

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Six Lucky Videobloggers Set Off on The Gap Year

Bebo, which recently lost its successful web drama KateModern, tomorrow launches a replacement of sorts: The Gap Year. The twist is, it’s a reality show, produced by Endemol.

Over the last six months Bebo and Endemol have whittled down the entrants to six young people who will be sent on six-month trips around the world. Sounds like a pretty spectacular deal to me. The chosen six set off tomorrow. They get a per diem allowance based on what guides like Lonely Planet recommended for the country they’re in. Each person travels individually, accompanied by a cameraperson/director, and will send in one 3- to 5-minute video per week. On Sunday Bebo will run compilations. The show currently disables embeds for its videos, but you can see some samples here.

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Persistent Storage Boosts Amazon Web Services; Enterprise Ambitions

In an ongoing effort to improve its suite of web services, Amazon said today that it’s adding persistent storage features to its EC2 storage service. Why is this important?

As the AWS blog explains, up until now you were able to attach 160 GB to 1.7 TB of storage to an EC2 “instance.” (An “instance” is essentially the server.) As long as the server was running, the storage remained available. Once you shut it down, the storage disappeared. “Applications with a need for persistent storage could store data in Amazon S3 or in Amazon SimpleDB, but they couldn’t readily access either one as if it was an actual file system,” the blog says. Read More about Persistent Storage Boosts Amazon Web Services; Enterprise Ambitions

Off Topic: Blockbuster Bids for Circuit City

So, Blockbuster’s genius CEO, Jim Keyes, wants to combine his struggling retail giant with Circuit City. WHY? It’s the kind of deal you can only justify if you’re coming off a major spring break bender. Otherwise, I don’t see how two blocks of lead can float. Why? First, Netflix and Amazon are, respectively, eating each company’s lunch. Second, a successful retail experience is now either big box (Wal-Mart) or deluxe (Apple).

Will E-Book Readers Like Amazon Kindle Open Doors for Writers?

While the news of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader could signal a changing trend in the way that readers consume their information, unremarked upon is how the rise of the e-book reader will eventually change the world for writers.
If readers can download books into their Kindle (or Sony Reader), what’s to stop them from cutting out the middleman and downloading directly from an author?
What’s happening to the news media (blogs vs. newspapers) and music (free downloads vs. buying a CD) and video (YouTube or downloads vs. buying a DVD) will happen with novels: the middleman will become unnecessary.
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Don’t be a jerk about ringtones

Ringtones I was excited to learn that Ringtones were now a part of iTunes. I thought it would be great if I could mash up some stuff in GarageBand, or shoot, even my current iTunes tracks, and easily get them on my iPhone. I hurriedly downloaded my new copy of iTunes to get this ability to work. So I right click on my Vanilla Ica song and I’m told I can’t create this ringtone because it isn’t available. Wha? I own this song! I bought the CD and imported it. Its mine, not AT&T’s or Apple’s. Mine, and yes of course I share it with the Vanilla Ice and their label. Other than that, it shouldn’t cost me a thing to throw this on my $599 iPhone. Secondly, if I can buy the whole song for a buck, why would I want 30 seconds of it for the same price?
In short, Apple and AT&T, stop being jerks about ringtones. Sure, I get that we as a society probably don’t want to hear an individual’s bad chop job of Ice Ice Baby. While I appreciate your efforts to protect ourselves from ourselves we are still in the land of the free. As in freedom to do what we want within the laws that bind us. This case, however is a blatant attempt at capitalist extremism. Gruber says it best:

“Yes, this might have further antagonized Apple’s already-contentious relationship with the music labels (and with the entertainment media conglomerates in general; cf. NBC), but the reason these relationships are rocky is that the executives running these companies are stubborn fools who are only willing to consider ways to keep things the way they were, and who hold their own customers in utter contempt. You can’t reason with the masterminds behind “ringles”.”

Guys, you’ve been blazing the trail and getting these old hats to see the future the way we want it. Why ruin the song with this dance? It seems like this took a significant more amount of logistics and infrastructure to put out ring tones than needed. So, let us do what we want with what we already have. If I feel like it is worth a buck I can just buy the ring tone. Take my dollar in that case, otherwise let me enjoy what those dollars already provided me.

Apple drops iPhone prices. Users get ticked.

If you haven’t heard already, at yesterdays event Steve Jobs announced that on top of dropping the 4GB iPhone, the price of the 8GB iPhone would be dropped by $200 to $399 (from $599…for the mathematically challenged).

The iPhone was released barely 2 months ago and thus a few users (especially those who dropped $600 on a phone) are a bit ticked.

A few points have been made in regards to negativity towards the price drop.

I think Gruber summed it up best:

…for those of you who’ve already bought one and are pissed about the price cut, if you didn’t think the iPhone was worth $599, you shouldn’t have bought it. That’s how supply and demand works.

I certainly understand both sides here. I know if I had purchased an iPhone and paid the equivalent of a new computer, I’d be ticked too. Being upset over spending $200 more than what you’d have to pay now is reason to be upset. But you’ve got to take things in to focus here.

Jobs is being completely honest when he says “that’s what happens in technology.” In a technology age dominated by short product life spans and competitive markets, Apple is doing what they have to to stay competitive in a volatile market like the mobile phone industry.

As Gruber said, if you didn’t think the iPhone was worth $599, you shouldn’t have paid that much for it. It’s not about customer loyalty or respect. It’s not about you some how thinking your iPhone was any type of “investment” that wouldn’t drop like a rock in value. It’s about business and supply and demand. Period.