To date, over three billion apps have been downloaded from the iPhone App Store. Of course, Calendars and RSS Readers and flashlights and other "useful" apps only account for part of the over 150,000 the store offers. With hundreds of apps being submitted every week, you'd think Apple would have its hands full rejecting all of the useless ones built to simulate farting, drinking beer, brandishing a light-saber, shaking a baby and everything in between.
Bringing the old world charm and elegance of a tape deck to numb-nuts hipsters too young to have ever used one.
Well, no. All that stuff gets through. Apple's main concern in policing the App Store seems to be stomping down on competition. Applications that duplicate Apple or AT&T apps (and do a better job of it) are likely to see the banhammer's vengeance visited upon them. MailWrangler, PodCaster and, most famously, Google Voice have all been banned for "duplicating functionality."
Take for instance, Apple's rejecting the Eucalyptus app for obscenity.
Ooooh! Eucalyptus. That's got to be slang for something kinky as all hell! Was this a social networking app for a very special subset of furries? A hook-up site for swinging Botanists? No, actually it was an Ebook app for public domain works. Since it provided access to a Victorian-era translation of the Kama Sutra, the app was deemed inappropriate. We asked Apple if they saw any irony in the fact that the iPhone's web browser provided access to a billion websites far filthier than an ancient translation of a religious text. Sadly, Apple's board of directors was too busy banning dancing in small Midwest towns to be reached.
Jilted developers and Google aren't the only people pissed off at Apple's App Store policies. The boys at the FCC are investigating the App Store for anti-competitive practices. Apple responded to the accusation, which kicked off yet another gigantic legal clusterfuck the results of which have yet to be decided, but are likely to be retarded.
You might be asking why any of this should matter to you. After all, most of Apple's dickery is aimed at a small, tech savvy minority. People who know how to hack their iPhones or program applications or work for a giant Apple subsidiary in China. Jobs has always known that the vast majority of people think technology is something to watch porn on. Lucky for him, he's fantastic at designing technology that those people intuitively understand how to use. Unlucky for the non-savvy majority, there are increasing signs that we're the eventual target of Apple's master plan.
If you're one of the tens of millions of people who have iTunes installed on their Windows machines, you might want to open up a search and see if Apple's "Safari" web browser has made its way onto your computer. No, you didn't download that on purpose and then forget about it. In March of 2008, Apple stuck a copy of Safari into a routine update for iTunes. They set the 22.65 MB file as part of the default download. Users who just skimmed over the update notice without reading it (IE: nearly everyone) soon found themselves with unwanted software.
Whether you want it or not.
Response from the media and major figures in the tech industry was immediate and powerfully negative. The CEO of Mozilla even wrote a big blog entry blasting Apple. As he saw it, this move of Apple's wasn't just annoying, it posed a risk to the security of the whole Internet.
In July of 2008, another iTunes update went out with a hidden program clinging to it like poop to a hairy ass. This time, the backlash was even more severe. Internet watchdog group Stopbadware.org accused Apple of spreading Malware. Bloggers again raised their flabby arms in protest. Apple quickly rescinded the update..
This is what real heroes look like.
So they've obviously learned their lesson, right? Well, in October of 2009, a new application from Apple landed in the U.S. Patent Office. Apple's idea was to program devices to periodically interrupt users with unskippable ads. The ads would temporarily halt performance of the device in order to "compel attention." That on its own is pretty nightmarish but, innovators that they are, Apple found a way to crank it up to that hard-to-reach "Lovecraftian" level.
"Apple can further determine whether a user pays attention to the advertisement. The determination can include performing, while the advertisement is presented, an operation that urges the user to respond; and detecting whether the user responds to the performed operation. If the response is inappropriate or nonexistent, the system will go into lock down mode in some form or other until the user complies. In the case of an iPod, the sound could be disconnected rendering it useless until compliance is met. For the iPhone, no calls will be able to be made or received."Ho-lee shit.
And this isn't just some crazy, pie-in-the-sky idea some engineer at Apple had and decided to get patented. Steve fucking Jobs had his name attached to the application. Is this where the man who holds the reins to the entire Apple Corporation sees his product line going? A future where cheap, malware and prime-time TV-ad-riddled devices flood the market?
Unfortunately, most of us won't know until our porn is being interrupted by an ad for FreeCreditReport.com.
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For more shenanigans from the corporate world, check out 9 Corporate Attempts At "Edgy" That Failed (Hilariously) and 5 Retro Commercials Companies Would Like You to Forget.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 2.15.2010) before Apple has our site destroyed.