It was just last month that Kosta Eleftheriou, the developer of FlickType, announced that his swipe-based keyboard for the blind would be pulled off the App Store over objections by Apple. Its reasoning was unclear, with Eleftheriou saying that Apple had begun rejecting updates for the app because it required full system access, a fact that Eleftheriou disputed, saying that it still worked without the permissions.
Apple has in the past taken ideas from the developer community and built them into its products. There’s actually a name for it — “Sherlocked,” or the phenomenon where Apple takes a popular third-party tool and renders it unnecessary by copying it directly. It’s happened many times over, but under the current climate where sentiment by developers is not in Apple’s favor, it looks particularly bad.
I have written about it earlier too- if you own the platform, you get incredible insight in the processes and application store. A multi-billion dollar company indulges in these disparaging trade practises without a murmur of protest. I am surprised they didn’t comprehend it coming. A few years ago, I was engaged with the BlackBerry team, and all requests for porting specific applications fell on deaf ears. They wouldn’t budge outside the App ecosystem. Apple hasn’t done to every application – but they easily take off a healthcare application based on violation of rules or delay the update process. Apple’s app store is notoriously fickle (the way it promotes specific applications) and has considerable leeway with several lobbying fronts to ensure these practices stay.