When Apple announced the iPhone SDK last year I said:
[...] Jobs makes it clear that the platform won’t be completely open. While he says that this is to balance the benefits of an open platform with user security protection, it’s unclear where Apple will draw those lines. Will there be a Skype client? Third-party media apps?
It would have been better if Apple had announced [the details] when it released the iPhone. I’m hopeful that Apple will now embrace the existing iPhone developer community, and won’t use “security” as a way to keep potential competitors off its platform.
Almost a year later Apple is using their control of the App store to block innovative developers from reaching their customers. The most recent example is the “Podcaster” iPhone app which allows you to download and manage podcasts on the iPhone directly, without having to boot your computer to sync in iTunes.
According to the developer, Apple blocked this application from the App store, saying:
Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.
If you want to build a platform, you have to compete fairly with the developers on your platform (if you must to compete at all). By restricting developers, Apple is stifling innovation and their long-term growth. Frustrated customers and developers who “think different” are Jailbreaking their iPhones and getting excited about Google’s Android.
Remember: Successful platforms create more value than they capture.
Update: Apple is apparently responding to the backlash by prohibiting discussion of the Apple’s rejection letters with an NDA.