Apple Bars Competing Mail App from iPhone Sandbox


Apple has denied AppStore certification to a third party developer’s mail application that the company says “duplicates the functionality” of the iPhone’s built-in Mail app. Angelo DiNardi’s MailWranger app claims to let users check multiple GMail accounts without manually logging in and out and to provide functionality unavailable through the iPhone’s native mail application, including support for threaded views, access to Google contacts, and support for easy mail archiving.

The dispute here recalls last week’s brouhaha over Podcaster’s denial of service based on similar claims the app would “duplicate the functionality” of the podcasting functionality of iTunes. Whether MailWrangler will follow Podcaster creator Alex Sokirynsky and resort to ad hoc distribution is uncertain at this time.

By any analysis, however, Apple’s gatekeeping behavior with the AppStore seems increasingly capricious. If “duplicating the functionality” of native apps is a standard, for example, can someone at Apple explain why there are nearly two dozen tip calculators in the AppStore?

16 responses to “Apple Bars Competing Mail App from iPhone Sandbox”

  1. Jamoke says:

    I want to hear from Apple on this one too. I want them to answer a lot of questions regarding the Native Apps. I feel they should publish their criteria for approval (if they haven’t).

  2. Adam says:

    There is absolutely no reason why Apple should have to publish their criteria. They make it plainly available to anyone who signs up for the iPhone Developer program in the form of an agreement that the developer MUST accept. This agreement is not publicly available, but a version from the beta program that has been posted clearly includes language that states apps duplicating functions of Apple apps are not accepted.

    If a developer chooses to continue his/her project, then they take the risk of denial based on any of the criteria they agreed to. Cell phones traditionally limit applications that can be installed, and often those apps can only be bought through the service provider. Why is it that Apple is expected to live to a higher standard than the rest of the industry by publicly releasing the details of their business plan?

    I’m just glad that AT&T isn’t in charge!

  3. Almerica says:

    We need apple to step up and give us some answers. People speculate but no one really knows. If there is a valid reason to deny apps, that fine but “Duplicating Functionality” is not a valid reason.

  4. Andrew DK says:

    So… how exactly does banning apps that duplicate functionality of native apps actually help anyone?

    There are tons of Mac apps that duplicate functionality of the native apps, what’s the big deal?


  5. imajoebob says:

    Since I don’t have an iPhone I haven’t been following this closely, but…

    As I see it, the key here is “functionality.” Things like mail and downloading may be core operations that have interaction or precedence. What if the OS idles iTunes in order to download mail? Can Podcaster say the same? If Apple’s mail throttles down its processor demand when a call comes in, will Mailwrangler do the same? They had enough problems with dropped calls before they opened the AppStore. Can Apple share these protocols without giving away trade secrets that may be some of the key design decisions making their OSes so stable? Light weight apps like calculators will run on top of the OS and don’t interact with other programs, so Apple doesn’t care.

    You can change the wheels and shocks on your car and you (usually) don’t void the warranty. Replace the carburetor and the warranty is toast.

  6. Nelson says:

    What’s the Apple’s criteria to accept new developers on the program, after all. I applied two weeks ago, and no answers so far

  7. Guest says:

    imajoebob… you’re the world’s biggest gunther.

  8. imajoebob says:

    First, someone using intentionally arcane jargon to flame is (I infer) more likely a true “gunther.”
    Second (again inferred), using rational logic, basic business sense, and the belief that no one has a right to use my personal property without my permission may be antithetical to intellectual property anarchists, but that’s what enabled you to afford the computer you’re using right now to read this (even if you’re just using one at work.

    Third, got screw with the carburetor on your car before requesting warranty service; then get back to me.

    Last, I guess your name tells us all we really need to know.