How Apple is Thwarting Enterprise iPhone App Development | Page 2

A case that illustrates this is Rogue Amoeba, a developer firm that makes audio software for a number of platforms, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. Version 1.0.0 of its Airfoil Speakers Touch was approved by Apple and appeared in the App Store last summer. In July, the company fixed a few bugs in the app and submitted its updated version 1.0.1 to Apple to replace the existing version.

To Rogue Amoeba's amazement, the update was rejected because it used some graphics Apple wasn't happy with - even though those same graphics appeared in the original version, which Apple had approved. Eventually, almost four months later and following two further rejections, the company was finally able to update its app to fix the bugs.

During that time Apple left the original buggy version on the store to be downloaded. "As such, the only thing Apple's process was doing was preventing a needed bug-fix from reaching the hands of our mutual customers," Paul Kafasis, CEO or Rogue Amoeba, says on his blog. "We wanted to ship a simple bug fix, and it took almost four months of slow replies, delays, and dithering by Apple. All the while, our buggy, and supposedly infringing version, was still available. There's no other word for that but 'broken.'"

Phil Schiller, an Apple senior vice-president, defended the company's review process in BusinessWeek, saying: "We've built a store for the most part that people can trust. You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you'd expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works."

"But how can you trust a platform that knowingly offers software that's buggy?," is what I want to scream in Schiller's face.

Aside from frustrating some developers and perhaps some consumers, Apple's strategy and policies, however, have more negative repercussions when it comes to potential users of enterprise iPhone apps. Should a company buy an app from the App Store and roll it out to its iPhone users, knowing that bugs might take months to fix? Or that Apple might be distributing versions of an app that contain known security flaws that could compromise an organization's entire network, and at the same time preventing the developer from releasing a security update? I think not.

And what about enterprise iPhone app developers? Will they be happy to watch their reputation go down the drain as customers complain about bugs or security flaws that haven't been fixed for months? It may not be the developer's fault, but it's nearly certain that they will be the ones taking the blame.

What about rolling back to an earlier release if an upgrade proves to be buggy? Uh-uh! Apple doesn't permit developers to allow their customers to do that either, even if the previous versions have been approved. Why not? I simply have no idea.

The truth is that the App Store's approval process may offer some benefits to consumers buying apps from unknown developers: they can be (reasonably) sure any app they buy won't crash their devices, slow down performance to unacceptable levels or introduce malware into their iPhone. But by preventing enterprise app developers from fixing bugs and security flaws in a timely fashion, its control makes the App Store totally unsuitable as a market place for business apps.

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