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Is it time for Apple to open up the App Store model?

I don’t often link to Daring Fireball, basically because I assume that you’re all reading it anyway. But in his post on Tits and Apps, John perfectly summarises the challenge that faces Apple in maintaining its mindshare with mobile developers:

Apple sees the App Store as an aspect of its brand. Developers see the App Store as the entirety of the Cocoa Touch platform. This is a significant conflict. Developers, if rejected from the App Store, can freely deliver whatever content they choose through MobileSafari — but you can’t reuse compiled Cocoa Touch apps that way. The work invested in a native app can only be recouped through the App Store.

The obvious answer to this – and, I suspect, the long-term solution – is to have more than one App Store. The Apple App Store would, like Apple’s physical and online stores, be quality goods selected by Apple. The other store (or stores?) would be more free-form, with levels of gauranteed quality which differed from those Apple set.

You would expect that any store which Apple allowed into the walled garden of the iPhone would have certain limitations. For example, the apps wouldn’t be allowed to use private APIs, or contain malware, and I would expect Apple to continue to check every iPhone app for this (and take a cut – less than 30%, but not nothing).

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