Another one bites the dust. This time, instead of banning a new app, Apple has denied a music streaming app called CastCatcher from releasing an update, due to "unreasonable volume of traffic." As with the past bans, the developers come out as the folk heroes, but an evil corporate overlord would have helped CastCatcher a lot. Here's how:iPhone music apps comes in a variety of flavors, from licensed tracks streaming apps — such as Pandora — to radio streaming apps — such as AOL Radio — to computer music streaming — such as Simply Media. But they are all mostly corporate owned. AOL Radio is powered by CBS, Last.fm is owned by CBS. ClearChannel Communications, the radio monopoly has its own iPhone app. CastCatcher's main feature was the ability to stream things called shoutcasts, a media streaming format developed by Winamp creator Justin Frankel during his anti-corporate punk days at Nullsoft. Some radio stations have used shoutcast software to bridge their transmission online, but most shoutcast sites are operated by hobbyists — ham-radio operators, amateur DJs, sports coverage, or talk shows. That means no revenue to share with Apple. And that means Apple has no room for them to hog AT&T's bandwidth. Why don't you kids go make a podcast instead?(Photo by otakuchick)
Hottrix, a software developer, is suing Coors for copying its $3 iBeer application. The novelty iPhone app shows a glass of beer that disappears as you tilt the iPhone sideways. Cute and harmless. Unless of course you're a major corporation that made a similar application, creatively called iPint, and gave it away for free as a marketing promotion. iPint consistently showed up in Apple's top 10 free applications list.Hottrix is alleging that they tried to reach an agreement with Coors but failed. After complaining to Apple, Coors' iPint was removed from the App Store in the U.S. — though it's still available in other countries. Hottrix still wants $12.5 million for damages for the alleged copying of its "wholly original ... and copyrightable subject matter." Copyrightable, not copyrighted? That may prove tricky to argue. Another case study on how not to cash out with an iPhone app.
The founders of Tap Tap Tap, a developer of iPhone applications, have parted ways, and are putting their most successful app, Where To, up for sale. John Casasanta says he and Sophia Teuschler delayed the announcement for weeks because they had difficulty coming to terms for the split. Commentards are already lauding the pair's transparency, but the move doesn't speak well for their business sense. If you were selling a home, would you tell people at an open house that the sellers were divorcing? Just what a buyer wants: a negotiation with two parties who can't agree on anything themselves.
What took so long? Obama '08, the iPhone app, is free. Sort of: There's no charge, but the app will try to put you to work dialing friends in battleground states. CNET non-Democrat Declan McCullagh test-drove it: "The application ranked contacts in Colorado, Michigan, and New Mexico at the top; at the bottom was a friend whose cell phone has a Texas number, though she actually lives in California." The app's controversial feature is that it reports back to Obama Central on the total number of calls you've dialed.
The coming iPhone-vs.-Android fight will be drawn along clear lines: Keyboard versus touchscreen. And for phone applications, open bazaar versus walled garden. While Google talks up the openness of its platform, Apple keeps plugging leaks through which iPhone app developers can thwart Apple's ruthless management of its App Store. The latest: Podcaster app developer Alamerica had been rejected by Apple. Someone at Alamerica figured out a workaround: They could hand out ad hoc licenses — meant for development and testing — in return for a $10 donation.Not only did it end-run the App Store, it cut Apple out of its 30 percent take on the fee. No more, though. Apple has shut down access to the ad hoc license system. I wouldn't go so far as to claim Apple's iron-fist approach will cause consumers to switch phones. But there's an obvious angle for Google: Play up the goofy apps like Pull My Finger that Steve Jobs wouldn't touch. Because if you've ever watched a bunch of drunk twentysomethings playing with their phones in a nightclub, you know that stupid and entertaining often beats pretty and functional.
"In 6 months, we’ve received over 2,700 plans. That’s about 20x what we received in a similar period last year. Out of that group, we’ve funded five companies." Honestly, I have no idea why Kleiner Perkins partner Matt Murphy has decided to blog about the firm's iFund venture with Apple. KPCB is notorious for doing all its deals through insider connections, not by trolling for ideas on the Internet. (Apple board member Al Gore is also a partner at Kleiner Perkins, so it's not like the firm needs an in.) Murphy concludes, "Stay tuned for a future conversation on mobile monetization and navigating the tradeoffs of free versus paid applications." How about a conversation on navigating Apple's imperious rule of its App Store?
Victor Wang — huh-huh — from Apple emailed the author of the Pull My Finger app, shown above, to explain that the interactive fart-noise program was deemed "of limited utility to the broad user community." I wonder what would happen if they applied a "utility" standard to the music videos sold through the same store? Wang's full email: