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Dear Aunt TUAW: Where's the OnLive App?

Dear Aunt TUAW,

More of a question rather than a tip, but with the App Store lockdown today, I presume OnLive's Player App will not be live in time for Christmas.

I was thinking: Do you think Apple delayed approval of the app to maximize profits by sales over Christmas, including the significant revenue likely generated by the release of Grand Theft Auto 3?

Your skeptical nephew,

Chris

Dear Chris,

Hey bud! It's your cousin Mike -- Auntie asked me to field this one, since I recently had a chance to play with the very impressive OnLive app in question. You're right: We heard great things about the app and its accompanying controller a few weeks ago (and I promise they're real, since I've still got the app installed and working on my personal iPad), but since then we haven't heard anything from OnLive, and the promised software has failed to materialize.

That only applies to iOS, for the moment; we're told the app is available on the Android store right now, so if you have an Android tablet, you can play with it there. But most of us TUAW folks don't bother with Android, so when is it coming to iOS?

I asked OnLive, and they tell me that both the iOS release of the app and the controller are still pending. The app specifically, an OnLive rep tells us, "in the approval process with Apple." The rep couldn't provide any further information, and it's possible that even OnLive doesn't know what the holdup is. Apple's approval process can be pretty secretive, even for the developers in it.

There's possibly a few things happening here. First, OnLive might just honestly be waiting on approval -- it's too bad they didn't clear the process before the big announcement, but them's the breaks, and maybe they are just waiting on a release. Second, Apple could have denied the app for some reason, and it's possible that OnLive is working to fix or resubmit the app in order to get Apple's approval. I've used the app, and I can't think of any reason technically that the app wouldn't be accepted, but maybe there was something.

Third, as you say, there could be something a little sneakier going on here. OnLive's service is paid for by selling access to PC games running on their own servers, and the way they have it set up, you can't buy those games through the app (you need to buy them from a regular PC before playing them on the iOS app). That means that Apple doesn't get any cut of games "sold" on OnLive, and that may be causing issues with the approval process. But that really shouldn't matter -- Apple doesn't take a cut of Netflix subscriptions, for example, and the Netflix apps are up and running without a problem.

Or, as you suggest, Apple could simply want to sell iPad native games, and is holding the OnLive app off in order to increase native app sales rather than OnLive game sales. That seems a little too sneaky to me, but you're welcome to be as paranoid as you want.

Honestly, I don't think there's a conspiracy here. The OnLive app makes your iPad more useful, and that's in everyone's favor. My guess is just that the app is caught up in the process. You're right in that it won't be approved over the App Store freeze, so we at least have to wait another week, but I think it'll either be approved soon, or we'll hear back from OnLive or Apple that it hasn't been accepted for whatever reason. In the meantime, OnLive is available on the Mac as well, so you can play all the games you want there for now. And we'll keep checking back with OnLive to see when the app is ready for release.

Happy Holidays!

Cousin Mike

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