Life is a Mystery

29 September 2009

Apple rejects political advocacy

Today I learned that an app called iSinglePayer has been rejected by Apple. Apple seems to want to avoid approving iPhone apps that take a stand on hot political issues. Or maybe it wants to avoid politics altogether? “Activism, we’ve got an app… oh, wait, no we don’t!”

I am so frustrated with Apple’s App Store insanity I could burst. I’m one of the awful people who likes to push Macs on all my (very patient) friends. I own stock in the company. But their misguided and almost random policing of the App Store has me seriously worried about the cocoon they seem to live in.

Moreover, I think this is going to hurt the iPhone enormously. I spent the summer learning to program the iPhone (even though I don’t own one and won’t any time soon). This Fall I began to talk with some Democratic Party folk here in Minnesota (we call it the DFL here) about building an iPhone app to help us manage our caucuses, or maybe more generally to allow us to complete surveys from our national Vote Builder tool. I find the news about iSinglePayer directly chilling. Do I really want to spend weeks of my time developing an app that Apple may well reject as too political?

How many other potential app authors are letting their ideas cool off on a back burner because they have gotten the impression that the road to the App Store is arbitrary or worse?

The only reason Apple is winning the smartphone wars right now is because all the other companies are even worse and more restrictive. Still, that hardly makes me feel better. I hope the FCC or someone with some leverage takes note and stops this kind of nuttiness. It seems sadly clear that left to its own devices, Apple will only dig a deeper hole.

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org