When Apple pulled Airfoil Speakers Touch from the App Store last week, many believed that the Cupertino company was gearing up to introduce the same functionality to iOS 6 later this year. It seems, however, that this was just wishful thinking. In letter to one customer obtained by Cult of Mac, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, explains the real reason why Airfoil Speakers Touch was pulled.
Kevin Starbird emailed Tim Cook to find out why Airfoil Speakers Touch was pulled from the App Store. Although Cook himself didn’t reply, Phil Schiller did. Starbird’s email read:
Dear Mr. Cook,
Apple recently pulled Rogue Amoeba’s app “Speakers” (an app that allowed an iOS device to receive AirPlay audio directly from iTunes or another iOS device) from the iOS app store on no grounds other than it contained “content or behavior [you] believe is over the line” — an opaque explanation if there ever was one, especially since Rogue Amoeba has yet to be told which line they crossed.
As a consumer and regular patron of Apple’s, this smells rotten to me. Specifically, it seems like you’re worried about a hit to the sale of Airplay-licensed speakers and the Airport Express. I suggest, however, that there would be greater benefit to us all if you allowed innovative and rule-abiding developers to provide value and utility in the form of brilliant paid apps like Speakers, thus enhancing the overall value of the entire iOS ecosystem.
What you’ve done instead is damage your ecosystem (not to mention your credibility) by telling developers everywhere that, even if they’ve spent thousands developing a paid app that follows all of your rules, you will never hesitate to pull the rug out from under them if you feel it might hurt the sale of iPod accessories.
I’m deeply disappointed, but I’m willing to hear Apple’s side of the story…
Schiller explains that the full story has not been accurately recounted on Rogue Amoeba’s website, and that the real reason why Airfoil Speakers Touch was pulled was because it violated Apple’s App Store terms:
Thank you for your email and question about this application.
The story as I understand it is simple, and not accurately recounted on Rogue Amoeba’s website. Rogue Amoeba’s app added a feature that accessed encrypted AirPlay audio streams without using approved APIs or a proper license and in violation of Apple’s agreements. Apple asked Rogue Amoeba to update their app to remain in compliance with our terms and conditions.
Your assumptions as to Apple’s motives and actions are simply not correct. We have an Airplay licensing program explicitly to assist companies in creating AirPlay capable products. Apple never said that we would pull the rug out from anyone, we in fact worked with this developer to ensure they update their app and remain on the App Store.
Of course, this doesn’t rule the possibility of seeing similar features integrated into iOS 6, but it definitely looks less likely now.