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  • 10Sep

    The Latest on Apple Apps

    From NYT

    Apple, which keeps a tight lid on its products and inner workings, is loosening up a little.

    The company said on Thursday that it would relax its rules on how software developers can build applications for its iPhone and iPad. And for the first time it published detailed guidelines explaining how it decides what programs can and cannot be sold through its App Store.

    Apple has long faced criticism from developers who say its application review process is opaque and that it makes seemingly arbitrary decisions about what is acceptable for its customers.

    This year, some were incensed when the company purged some sexually suggestive applications it deemed to be inappropriate — like a jigsaw puzzle featuring scantily dressed women — while a Sports Illustrated application with bikini-clad models remained.

    Analysts said the moves on Thursday were a sign that Apple was growing increasingly aware of competition in the smartphone market, and was trying to be friendlier to the developers whose applications have helped drive the success of its products.

    In particular, Android, the mobile operating system by Google, has steadily increased market share in the United States and abroad. Shipments of smartphones using Android grew by 886 percent during the second quarter from a year earlier, according to the research firm Canalys. And a wave of Android tablet computers that will compete with the iPad are on the way.

    “Apple is concerned enough about the shifting tide towards Android that it feels it has to loosen restrictions to keep developers on its side,” said Jeffrey S. Hammond, an analyst atForrester Research.

    Although Mr. Hammond said that Apple’s App Store was outpacing opponents in both the number of applications available for download and the amount of revenue generated for developers, he said Apple’s announcement was a “pre-emptive strike.”

    “Google has done a better job at leveling the playing field for independent developers, and that matters,” he said. “I don’t think Apple can tolerate that, especially with the dozen or more pads that we’re going to see hit the market in eight to nine weeks.”

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