Yes, there is an iPhone kill switch (and why “I Am Rich” got pulled)

There’s an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal that both confirms that Apple has a “kill switch” for third-party iPhone software, and that it pulled “I Am Rich” rather than it being withdrawn by the developer:

“Some developers, however, have run afoul of Apple’s limits on software it will distribute through the App Store. The company recently removed an application called I Am Rich that did nothing but display a glowing red gem, for the eye-popping sum of $999.99. The programmer who created it, Armin Heinrich, says he thought he was abiding by Apple’s rules for its developers. An Apple spokeswoman said Apple made a ‘judgment call’ to remove I Am Rich.

Apple raised hackles in computer-privacy and security circles when an independent engineer discovered code inside the iPhone that suggested iPhones routinely check an Apple Web site that could, in theory trigger the removal of the undesirable software from the devices.

Mr. Jobs confirmed such a capability exists, but argued that Apple needs it in case it inadvertently allows a malicious program — one that stole users’ personal data, for example — to be distributed to iPhones through the App Store. ‘Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull,’ he says”