If you were trolling around the App Store last night, you might have come across a new 99-cent flashlight app called Handy Light. And if you were willing to pay for it, you would have found a bonus: the program contained a hidden tethering app that would allow your computer to connect to the Internet over your phone, a privilege that normally requires a $20 monthly payment to AT&T. While the app somehow made it through the inspectors at Apple, once word got out, it was gone.
The app was developed by Nick P. Lee, who refers to himself as “an aspiring 15-year-old web designer and programmer.” Lee has developed a number of other iPhone apps, though none apparently contain similar bonuses.
Apple has developed a reputation as a strict — and sometimes capricious — gatekeeper for developers. During a conference call with industry analysts yesterday, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook were asked about the app store policies:
Charles Wolf – Needham & Co.: Yes, in the past, iPhone software developers have complained not about the App Store rules, but the fact that they were arbitrary. Has Apple done anything to address this issue?
Peter Oppenheimer: Charlie, I think that we are always looking to make our developers happy. We have over 225,000 Apps on the store with over 5 billion downloads. …
Tim Cook: Charlie, I would just add that the vast majority of Apps are retrieved within seven days of their submission, and that many of the Apps that aren’t approved have bugs in them, and are eventually resubmitted and approved. And we obviously I think all of us want to ensure that pornography and graphic scenes don’t make their way to the platform, and so you know, I think these are things that I realize not 100% that everybody is going to agree with. I think many of us would want us those to occur.
While Cook was warning callers about the dangers of iPorn, Lee’s app was already on its way to the company’s servers, and out to lucky early adopters who knew what to look for.
Handy Light: Tethering App Camouflaged as Flashlight [AppShopper.com]
Apple Inc. F3Q10 (Qtr End 06/26/10) Earnings Call Transcrip [Seeking Alpha]