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Griping about third party iPhone apps (or lack thereof)

You know the company line by now: Third party applications will not be allowed on iPhones at this time, because of security fears. To the unread mind, this might seem like an acceptable excuse. As Steve Jobs himself said back in January: “You don’t want your phone to be an open platform. You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up.” Some people still fought and griped, while others contentedly took Jobs’s statement to heart and didn’t think much about how limited their iPhones really are. A post we read in the New York Times Bits blog, however, allowed us to form a better understanding of what’s going on here. The gist: Third party apps exist elsewhere in the mobile world — even AT&T’s mobile world.

Did you know that third party apps are developed for the Palm Treo? Did you know that about two-thirds of Treo users have at least one third party app installed on their device? And did you know that this holds true even on the AT&T network? In fact, it goes a step further. AT&T has this nifty website, which seeks to work with developers to write software. Novel!

And now we add the kicker quote:

“The company that decides which third-party apps go on the iPhone is Apple,” [Michael Coe, AT&T spokesman] said. I pressed him for one example of a concern that might be a reason for Apple to limit third-party applications.

The spokesman, of course, wouldn’t answer the question. But it does speak to the nature of these third party apps being blocked. My all measures, it seems that Apple, for some undisclosed reason, wants to block these apps. Why knows why? But at least now we have a better understanding of the nature of the problem.

Thanks to Saul Hansell of the New York Times for enlightening us on this issue.