image I want to choose software for reading e-books. That is one reason why I invested in an iPod Touch rather than a system as closed as the Kindle. I knew that a bunch of e-reader apps would come along in time. In fact, we already have Stanza, eReader, BookShelf and Bookz. But could greedy Suits at Apple be about to spoil the fun?

Apple’s App Store for the Touch and iPhone has just banned the Podcaster app, which it may have regarded as an iTunes rival. Luckily you can bypass the App Store and still download Podcaster to "subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch." No jail-breaking needed. Just supply your UDID and wait for the Podcaster people to provision your iPod, which might take a few days.

Grouchy just the same

I just hope the suits will back off; consider the E ramifications if they don’t. Will Apple war in the future against e-reading programs and related distribution systems if it gets more serious about e-books via iTunes? If so, more than a few e-book-related developers would migrate to Android. At the consumer level, such idiocy would very possibly kill any interest many e-bookers had in a larger tablet version of the Touch. For now, Dave Winer writes:

I wouldn’t invest in or develop an iPhone app because Apple could decide not to approve it, and if they don’t approve it you can’t sell it. You can’t even give it away. You don’t find out if you’ve been approved until the last step, after you’ve fully invested, so you could lose, totally, if Apple says no. Permalink to this paragraph

At first this might have seemed ridiculous if you didn’t know Apple, you might assume they’d only keep out apps that somehow damaged the iPhone, but it hasn’t turned out that way.  Permalink to this paragraph

Yesterday it came out that they rejected an app called Podcaster because it competed with iTunes, an Apple product. Maybe it was better than iTunes in some way, or simpler, more focused, had features iTunes didn’t have? It doesn’t matter, it illustrates exactly why Apple shouldn’t assume this power, or if they insisit on it, you’d have to be crazy to develop iPhone apps.  Permalink to this paragraph

Consider this possibility. Next year Apple announces an app that does what your previously authorized iPhone app does. You have competition, so another competitor, even if it is the platform vendor, isn’t that big a deal, right? Well what if they de-authorize your app because it duplicates functionality of theirs? Think you could live with that? Permalink to this paragraph

Caveat: Apple may remotely turn off Podcaster in the future, as the developers warn. Rotten Apple!

And speaking of a monopolist-style mindset: Stuck in Google’s Doghouse, in the New York Times—plus a related Techmeme roundup.


  1. please dont tell me your surprised Apple have always been extremely hostile to 3rd party developers trying to change the basic vision for the platform.

    The exact same thing happened with the macs they had all the buzz there was a vibrant industry surounding it and apple just managed to kill it all with their stubborn refusal to listen to focus groups or let 3rd party companies near anything, where there was a diverting Jobs aproved right way. As soon as a viable altilernative arived.

  2. This sort of things happen very often with Facebook too. Instead of removing the apps though, they simply add something similar as a core feature and push it to every user.

    You can’t rely on platforms such as Facebook or iTunes as your only business model exactly for this sort of reasons.

    My advice to all the developers releasing an e-book app on the AppStore: release everything on Android and various competing mobile platforms too. This way, you’re not entirely screwed if Apple is in a bad mood.

  3. Too bad that there’s no current way to backup your downloads from the iPhone/iPod Touch though. They’re all ePub files and it would be a very good way to avoid such problems.

    Do you still manually create your ePub files Yoda47 ? You recently posted a book on Feedbooks, although I thought that you created all your ePub on your own. Nice upload anyway !

  4. I download them to my computer first so that I have them backed up. Also, the ones I get from Feedbooks, I can go and get them again if something happens to my iPod.

    Yes, I still manually create ePub books (the ones I can’t find on Feedbooks or Munsey’s anyway 😉 ), but even with blank template files it’s fairly labor intensive. So I wanted to try out the Feedbooks system to see how it works. Also, I want to add a small section to the end of my ePub creation guide with links to automated options for creating ePub files for people who don’t want to do it all manually, and I want to review it before recommending it. (It’s very nice, BTW.)

  5. I am also with kittens to discover an automated ePub creation process. I have tried the mamual method and while they work, it is too much hassle to do regularly.

  6. Just read your update Yoda74. We’re indeed improving the feature on Feedbooks and my goal is to turn it into a tool that’s easy enough for everyone to use.

    I’m not really interested in a quick and dirty method though, mostly because it’s usually REALLY dirty. Multiple flows for example are very important if you’d like to have some sort of support on the PRS-505, and a TOC can be useful too.

    Quick and dirty conversions work best with limited formats, such as Mobipocket for example. You could design a good tool for this, but it’ll be more of a power-user tool (command line stuff) where you have to specify a way to detect multiple flows, TOC etc…

  7. I’d like to be able to read Kindle format ebooks on my iPod touch. I’m not going to purchase another device, but I would like to get some of the ebooks that Amazon sells.

    Is there any application that does this? (I’d also use it on my laptop.)

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