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App disqualified from App Store because it 'duplicates iTunes functionality' (updated)

An iPhone developer who created an app that manages and plays podcasts says the app was disqualified from the App Store because "it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes." That's right, iTunes for the desktop.

This opens up unsettling possibilities for other developers. There are many applications that duplicate the functionality of Apple software for both the desktop and mobile devices. For instance, there are many calculators that duplicate the functionality of Calculator. Twitterrific has a small browser built in, duplicating the functionality of Safari. NetNewsWire duplicates some RSS reading functionality in Mail for Mac OS X.

There's a well-defined slippery slope here. While Apple is within its rights to accept or reject any app into the App Store for whatever reasons it sees fit, its communication with the developer community leaves a lot to be desired. (We talked a little about this on last Sunday's Talkcast.) Even though the developer says he followed all the rules, there's still a chance that an app will simply fall ill of Apple's fickle fancy.

Will this latest move by Apple chill relations with developers? Or are the upsides still too great to ignore? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

Update: And commenters think I'm overreacting: Frasier Speirs, developer of Exposure, isn't writing any more iPhone apps because of this whole mummalum. [Via Metafilter.]

Thanks, Mike!

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