Apple's taken some heat for setting the bar too high for admission to its iPhone App Store, as well as for making the App Store the exclusive source for downloadable software. The fact that Apple is judging quality and safety at all, instead of just providing an online catalog, is being swung as a marketing hook for mobile platforms that fancy themselves more open, but a cynic would wonder whether they're really tearing down the empire that they simply didn't think to build first.
The App Store is transforming the way software is conceived, developed, sold, and supported, and this high-margin, low-effort, iTunes-inspired model that favors selling lots of cheap apps over a few costly ones will spread. But even when the day comes that the App Store is no longer unique in concept or penetration, the standards to which Apple holds its App Store contenders will set it, and the iPhone platform, apart. Apple signs off on everything the App Store sells for security and compatibility. The App Store isn't just 50,000 apps; it's 50,000 apps that work on your phone and don't ship your contacts to a .ru site. That continuous, voluminous vetting is heavier lifting than any of Apple's competitors is willing to commit to. That's why there's no genuine App Store rival yet.
[ InfoWorld's Bill Snyder argues that Apple's control-freak tendencies are out of hand at the App Store -- and good for no one. | Discover the 21 apps that Apple doesn't want on your iPhone. Get the best iPhone apps for business and IT in InfoWorld's iPhone apps finder. ]
As an iPhone user, I don't want Apple to back off its standards. Where money is involved, I not only want Apple's strict App Store standards to stay in place, I want to raise the bar by demanding guidelines that reflect the pivotal role that a mobile device, which is inseparable from its applications, plays in modern life and work.
To that end, I humbly present "New Rules for App Store Developers." Freeware, games, flashlights, and trial balloons are exempt, although all my rules are easily within the reach of even a one-person iPhone development shop (which also describes me).