It’s good to be king.
Apple deserves lots of credit for creating an entirely new market for mobile software in the iTunes app store, over which it justifiably reigns.
But the army of developers who have created over half a million Apple iOS apps to date perform another valuable function, in addition to making Apple’s hardware more attractive to users and contributing 30 percent of their revenue to the company’s bottom line: Sometimes, they act like a big, unpaid R&D lab for incubating features that Apple can eventually incorporate into its own products — even after banning those same products from its app store (or, rather, App Store).
Take Camera+, the camera app for the iPhone that has grossed $2.7 million in sales revenue for its creator Lisa Bettany (and her team). At the AdAge Creativity and Technology conference in New York City Thursday, Bettany discussed the odd history of her app, which has been downloaded more than 3 million times from iTunes leading to unexpected riches for its creator.
Apple pulled Camera+ from iTunes because its new “VolumeSnap” feature allegedly violated Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement by allowing users to shoot photos using the iPhone’s Up Volume button. In its rejection notice, Apple explained, “Your application cannot be added to the App Store because it uses iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion.”
One reason the iPhone has been so successful is that Apple maintains tight control over its hardware. Bettany told those assembled yesterday that she doesn’t even consider it worthwhile to release an Android app because users on that platform refuse to pay for stuff that iPhone users gladly do. Apple was both her benefactor and her tormentor, until she pulled that feature, and her app was re-admitted to iTunes.