So there have been (as I count, and I don't keep track closely) four apps banned from the App Store.
- Pull My Finger (makes fart sounds)
- I Am Rich (does nothing, costs $1000
- Podcaster (stream Podcasts)
- MailWrangler (mail client)
A lot of people seem to be surprised by this. Pull My Finger is really the only one possibly that shouldn't have been banned. There's lots of apps that only play sounds, so why is this one different? Maybe along with Apple's "no sex apps" rule they also have a "no excretory apps" rule. I can understand that. And I'm not entirely surprised.
I Am Rich is obvious abuse of the system, and can lightly be considered "malware" for being deceptive. It does absolutely nothing, and scams people out of a grand. Nobody should be surprised.
This brings us to Podcaster and MailWrangler. When the App Store was announced Steve Jobs said that "things like porn" would not be allowed. He also made it very clear that there wasn't going to be any web browsers. Given that fact, it seems to me obvious why Podcaster and MailWrangler were banned. The core functions of the iPhone are Safari, Mail, iTunes and making phone calls. As far as Apple is concerned, the iPhone is Safari, Mail and iTunes. Those three things make it one cohesive product. If you want to make something that does that, go build your own damned phone. Apple isn't selling the iPhone as OS X for mobile devices. They're selling the iPhone. The iPhone is MobileSafari, MobileMail and iPod. Likewise Mac OS X is no more an Operating System than GNOME or KDE are. In a strict Computer Science sense, XNU is the OS. But they don't sell XNU, they sell Mac OS X. You can no more replace XNU with Linux than you can replace MobileMail with MailWrangler (I realize that these are different directions on the stack, but this is Apple's point of view, like it or not). If you were surprised by any of this, or if you think I'm totally full of shit then you need to take a look around at reality.
Now, making calls is the only thing that isn't Apple's bag. They're in bed with AT&T. I think this is why iChat on the iPhone hasn't happened yet, that AT&T nixed it in the contract. And I think it's also the reason the mythical WiFi VOIP app is allowed. AT&T didn't say that nobody else could. This is also why you can make note takers, stock charts and weather predictions till you're blue in the face and Apple doesn't care. Nobody's buying the iPhone because they can get the weather report. They buy it for mail, web and music. Oh, and maybe making calls too.