What Steve said about the App Store and why we need to suck it up

We’ve been screaming and whining about the iPhone App Store for nigh on a year now and we seem to have avoiding talking about one of the most obvious sources for information about the Store: Steve himself.

Harry “Long Tail” McCracken remembers what Steve said way back in the old days about the App Store.

Jobs said that Apple wouldn’t distribute porn or malicious apps or privacy-invading apps, and said that Apple’s interests and those of third-party developers were the same. The slide also mentioned “Bandwidth hogs,” which apparently meant stuff like SlingPlayer, and “Unforseen,” which I assumed at the time referred to other applications that put iPhone owners at risk in one way or another. What he didn’t do is say that Apple would reject software that competed with Apple or AT&T offerings.

This “unforeseen” section is what really bugs everyone. Google Voice, for example, could feasibly recreate some basic iPhone functionality and also act as a resource hog.

However, unforeseen could also mean what Gruber says:

And, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, I’m not sure the decision is entirely unreasonable. Don’t think about it in terms of Apple’s relationship with its carrier partners, but instead think about it in terms of Apple’s competition with Google. Google Voice is a mobile phone service provided by the maker of one of the biggest competitors to the iPhone OS. What if Google Voice were instead Microsoft Voice? And what if Windows Mobile were as modern and competitive as Android? Would you be as surprised then that Apple is discouraging iPhone owners from using the service? Just saying.

Unforeseen, in this case, could mean “competitive.”

So the App Store process is truly capricious but – and this is important – it’s not as capricious as we think. There is a method to the madness. Is it a good method? Is the madness helpful? No and no. But you can’t blame Apple for protecting their walled garden.

The iPhone is not a PC. It does not act as a standalone device with resources enough to run any application. It is a device that, in a sense, Apple is renting to you. They’ll never do this, but imagine if Apple suddenly encrypted your phone because you jailbroke it?

In short, we can whine all we want but Apple still runs the show.