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Squatters Abusing iPhone App Store 121

Posted by kdawson
from the not-even-for-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader sends in a new report on a not-so-new problem, one that has had little visibility so far. A quirk in the way Apple's iPhone App Store works has enabled squatters to move in, and in fact has encouraged legimate developers to grab and squat on dozens of app names that they might use some time in the future. "It turns out you can exploit the registration process to gain ownership of as many app names as you like, without any intention of actually writing a single line of code. 'A developer can pretend to submit an app, but abandon their submission at the last moment, avoiding the need to actually create an application, but keeping hold of the app's name. In limbo. Maybe forever.' says iPhone app developer Atomic Antelope, who found that their app name 'Twitch' and its variations were stuck in limbo . 'Squatters have moved into the app store. They're worse than domain name squatters though, because you can't even enter into negotiation with them. You don't know who they are, or where they are.'" The solution seems simple: for Apple to flush all the apps that have not submitted binaries, and to repeat periodically.
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Squatters Abusing iPhone App Store

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @10:59AM (#29693173) Journal

    The solution seems simple: for Apple to flush all the apps that have not submitted binaries, and to repeat periodically.

    Simple solution needs a simple response: compile Hello World! tutorial app and name it XYZ app and upload it to your desired squatter name. Use same binary or recompile for tiny differences to avoid sum checking. You have a complex problem that no simple solution will fix. Anything short of charging a nominal fee (a la domain registration) will probably not work and the fee idea is a horrible one for people who just want to get their app out there. If it doesn't cost money, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. Ball's in your court.

    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:06AM (#29693315)
      Wouldn't a shitty ap like that get rejected since it doesn't do fuck all? Plus they'll prolly get charged or lose their account if they are forcing apple to check aps that are obviously BS.
      • by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:32AM (#29693737)

        Wouldn't a shitty ap like that get rejected since it doesn't do fuck all? Plus they'll prolly get charged or lose their account if they are forcing apple to check aps that are obviously BS.

        Solution: Write a program to display hello world in the font of the users choosing, and not only will it get accepted, you will probably get people to pay $0.99 for it.

        • program to display hello world in the font of the users choosing

          oh... my... God! That's the app I've always wanted but I could never find! I'll pay you $500 for it!

        • by oh_bugger (906574)
          You fool! You've just given away a million dollar idea!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Elshar (232380)

        I take it you have never used the app store. I could see it working beautifully.

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:56AM (#29694185)

        As opposed to "flashlight" programs that merely turn the screen white?

        An app doesn't have to do much to get accepted at the app store. It's more about things that apps CAN'T do that will get them rejected.

      • You're asking Apple to subjectively approve apps, which IMO is a disaster waiting to happen considering the power developers will want it in order to monopolize the appstore. Funny thing is it is likely to happen.
        Also considering Apple approval team is like 40-50 people, the 2week approval period will likely goto 4 weeks.

        Flashlight app is a great example. It shows there's good simple apps, but yes 90% of the appstore is junk. That I can't sell a 0.99 app that is just a image, an advertisement of my com
      • by sharkey (16670)
        Yeah, it doesn't really let others know that "I'm rich" [republicofinternets.com], does it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Actually a small ($5ish) online fee sounds quite reasonable. It's also a form of quality control, people will ask themselves if their app is truly worth "getting out there" at this point and time before typing in their credit card number...

      Or, you could offer people the option of investing time in it... like you must play a pointless flash game of breakout or minesweeper to avoid losing the app. Next to the "target score" indicator could be a "just pay the fee already" button...

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, for many developers, any fee at all is a discouragement to the development process. Why would I want to pay just to have my app submitted for approval when there's a very real chance that it'll just get rejected? Would the fee just be to create the app "parking spot" or would it be for each submission? If the former, it's not really a discouragement to the squatters if they think they can figure out how to sell those names to devs. If the latter, you've just eliminated most of the devs that work o

        • by Deosyne (92713)

          Exactly. This squatting issue, in and of itself, isn't a deal breaker for iPhone development but it does reflect yet another pain in the ass in a long list of those that would-be developers have to deal with. Those limitations have me seriously considering the return of my iPhone before I would be subject to an early termination fee, although enough about the platform has convinced me to start looking into the potential of using it while jailbroken. I think that the device is solid and the OS is OK but almo

        • by mysidia (191772)

          Give a developer an option to cancel/delete their hold on the name at any time after a rejection, or in lieu of submitting for approval, for a refund.

          That is, as soon as the name is no longer reserved for them, they get the $5 back, minus the credit card processing fees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There's a $100 yearly fee to develop for iPhone.
    • by RedK (112790)
      Except once you submit an app it goes through the approval process. Then it will get rejected and I hope after seeing a blue screen (default project), they will revoke your dev access.
    • by Xeno man (1614779)
      You need an account to submit applications do you not? Just look at how many submissions are made under each account. If the account has lots of titles and no applications or lots of tiny do nothing, similar sized programs, purge and ban.
      • by JorDan Clock (664877) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:43AM (#29693931)

        If the account has lots of titles and no applications or lots of tiny do nothing, similar sized programs, purge and ban.

        Whoa there. A solution like that would remove over 90% of the App Store.

        • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:50AM (#29694065)

          If the account has lots of titles and no applications or lots of tiny do nothing, similar sized programs, purge and ban.

          Whoa there. A solution like that would remove over 90% of the App Store.

          I don't see why that's a problem.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Phisbut (761268)

            If the account has lots of titles and no applications or lots of tiny do nothing, similar sized programs, purge and ban.

            Whoa there. A solution like that would remove over 90% of the App Store.

            I don't see why that's a problem.

            It would be a huge problem for Apple, as they would no longer be able to claim that there are several tens of thousands of apps available on the app store. It's pretty much like the PS2 vs. other consoles marketing bullcrap. Sure, you've got sooooo many apps (or games) available on your platform, but 95% of them is pure crap.

    • by esme (17526)

      I think the fee would have to be uncomfortably high to stop squatters. A commercial developer with a vague intention of making an app at some point might find it acceptable to pay $10, $50 or $100 to reserve good names. But how much would developers of free apps be willing to spend? Not as much, I would expect. So maybe you'd need to take donations to be able to afford the submission fee...

      I think the real solution is for a human being to review submissions and either release the submitted app to the ap

      • They already do this. Apple painstakingly makes sure, in anywhere from 2 weeks to a month it seems like to me, that your app is acceptable and will reject you for the slightest infraction forcing the process to start over.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I don't think it would have to be that high. If it was $5, you would have to pay $5 for each app name you wanted to reserve. No money could be generated from the app, all you have is a name. So maybe you could buy up 10 or 20, but you really are wasting your money if you don't intend to keep a lot of app names reserved, without actually releasing applications with those names. Contrast this with domain names, where you pay a small fee, but you can actually put up a site with ads and make some money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There is a VERY strict vetting process that causes many legitimate developers to go back to the drawing board time and time again. That would not work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brandee07 (964634)

      Simple solution needs a simple response: compile Hello World! tutorial app and name it XYZ app and upload it to your desired squatter name. Use same binary or recompile for tiny differences to avoid sum checking. You have a complex problem that no simple solution will fix. Anything short of charging a nominal fee (a la domain registration) will probably not work and the fee idea is a horrible one for people who just want to get their app out there. If it doesn't cost money, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. Ball's in your court.

      This wouldn't actually work for the purposes of the squatters. They need to hold on to a name for the development of a future app. They can't be squatting for the sake of profit because there's no way to tell who wants the name you're squatting on, and therefore no way to extort money out of them for it.

      So, with the assumption that they're squatting on a name for the purpose of maybe using it for something in the future, if they upload a Hello World! app, would Apple let them upload a totally different a

      • by mysidia (191772)

        . They can't be squatting for the sake of profit because there's no way to tell who wants the name you're squatting on, and therefore no way to extort money out of them for it.

        Sure they can.. they can start a web site selling the use of "iPhone App names", or iPhone app branding/development services.

        And list on the web site, the names they have squatted.

        Their model could be a front.. where developers build their app and pay the squatter to get the app through Apple's approval process, and published

    • Simple solution needs a simple response: compile Hello World! tutorial app and name it XYZ app and upload it to your desired squatter name.

      Clever thought but that wouldn't work. An App like that wouldn't get approved and would hang in the queue for maybe 2-4 weeks, after which it will get rejected. Rejected App names are cleared out of the system, as far as I know. That's why TFA is talking about a "quirk".

      The solution is actually even simpler than flushing the DB: Simply register an app name only AFTER a binary has been submitted. I think that's the way it should have worked...

    • by mysidia (191772)

      A $5 deposit that will be refunded upon acceptance of the application.

      Also, apps that aren't approved within a sufficient period should be expunged... binaries or no.

  • flushing apps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:05AM (#29693287)

    I don't see why it would be to hard to do one of the following:

    1) require the binaries to be present when uploading the app, if you back out it doesn't save anything.
    2) give a 7 day grace period to upload the app binaries. If they are not uploaded by then, you forfeit the rights to the name

    • by liquidsin (398151)

      1) wouldn't that mean developing the app with a name/brand/logo and hoping that someone doesn't take the name the day before you release?
      2) a week to rebrand?

      first coffee of the day; maybe i'm missing something...

    • by nametaken (610866)

      Easily the most reasonable (and likely to be implemented) suggestion yet.

      I've wondered about how Facebook handles this. I've taken names for FB apps that I should really release, as I've never actually developed the apps.

    • by Snocone (158524)

      So I upload a binary that crashes on launch; every couple weeks when I get a rejection notice I resubmit it.

      To close that strategy off you'd have to have a policy of refusing application submissions after (X) rejections.

      Any attempt at that kind of policing would go over ... poorly.

    • by curunir (98273) *

      How about:

      3) Remove the unique constraint on app name and let companies use a dispute resolution system outside of Apple (i.e. civil courts) if it becomes a problem. If people want to reserve a name, they can trademark it.

      As an iPhone user I'm perfectly capable of differentiating apps based on not only their name but their icon as well. Hell...I don't even look at either most of the time because I remember which apps are at which positions. I see no reason why multiple apps can't share the same name...would

      • by mysidia (191772)

        How about remove the constraint on uniqueness for non-published apps.

        Once an app has been published with a certain name and reaches a certain number of purchases, the name becomes protected.

        I'd say once 10,000 different people download a certain app, no new submissions should be allowed for that app name.

        This offers some minimal protection against new developers naming their app the same as a popular one to try to trick people searching by app name into installing the wrong one.

      • by iank (18674)

        This is by far the most obvious way to deal with the problem to me too, and allows conventional law (copyright for images, trademark for names, etc) to resolve copycat developers.

      • by Kalriath (849904) *

        You'd break Deeplinking. Since that's Apple's latest and greatest new feature to make it appear they care about devs, that isn't going to happen.

  • Simpler solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:05AM (#29693299) Homepage

    Your name isn't accepted until your product is accepted to the App Store. This way Apple have to approve both the name and the application so if you create an application that just prints out "hello world" but call it "GPS navigation" then it gets bounced because the name is wrong.

    Sure this means people will bleat and complain about Apple rejecting names sometimes but it would remove the problem of squatting.

  • by Numbah One (821914) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:11AM (#29693393)
    Not really. Since an app has to go through Apple's approval process, Hello World apps that don't actually do what the submitter indicates should not make it into the store. Of course, given the opaque approval process and the number of fart apps that made it in to the store, the approval process is not a guaranteed firewall.

    Apple could them flush the "empty" apps that do not have approved binaries, or at least binaries in the approval process, if they have been empty for more than 3 months or so.

    This is just another thing that Apple, and the Android and Palm folks, will have to deal with. The real fun will be when apps are available on multiple platforms, but have different names because of conflicting approvals processes, squatters, and other things that have not yet surfaced.
    • The real fun will be when apps are available on multiple platforms, but have different names because of conflicting approvals processes, squatters, and other things that have not yet surfaced.

      Theoretically, if you have a trademark name you could ask Apple to honor that trademark or failing that go to court with your rivals. But yeah, it's problematic.

    • Not really. Since an app has to go through Apple's approval process, Hello World apps that don't actually do what the submitter indicates should not make it into the store.

      Well that's easy to get around. Just write an app which gives helpful links for that topic. You downloaded "GPS Navigator"

      You may be interested in "GPS" "Technology" "Auto Models" "Handheld Electronics" "GPS Accessories"

      See my homepage at http://www.gpsnavigator.com/ [gpsnavigator.com]

  • not really worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:14AM (#29693443) Homepage Journal

    They're worse than domain name squatters though, because you can't even enter into negotiation with them.

    The way I look at any "hostage situation" is that negotiation is what gives them their power. If you refuse to negotiate with them, and they know that negotiation isn't an option, it severely limits what they can do or what benefits they can reap from their actions. Look at china, they have a simple rule, they do not negotiate with criminals under any circumstances. You don't see anywhere near the hostage-ish problems over there because any criminal knows they have little to gain.

    Its the same way with domain squatting. The reason they do it is so they can extort or gouge you for a fortune to get the name because they can negotiate with you. If it wasn't possible for them to contact you or you to contact them to negotiate, domain squatting wouldn't be 1/100th the problem it is now. The LAST thing in the world the ITMS needs is some way for a squatter to be contacted by someone that wants the name.

    The solution here is as the article mentions, the same thing that was done to domain tasting recently, for Apple to make it impractical by limiting how long someone can squat without using the name.

    • Re:not really worse (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jours (663228) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:42AM (#29693909)

      Listen, let's not confuse domain squatting - the act of sitting on a company's domain name waiting for them to want to build a web site - with the legitimate secondary market for domain names.

      The former was a big problem "in the old days" as companies were trying to get to the web and found someone squatting on their name. This has been largely solved in the courts now, and few companies are making their first move to the web anymore anyway.

      The secondary market for domains though is completely legit. I buy domain names that I expect to have value, whether I intend to use them or not, and then sell them to others when they want to use them. It's no different than you buying a piece of land and then someday selling it to someone who wants to build a shopping mall on it. You weren't squatting on the land, you just didn't know what (if) you were going to do with it. You paid for it, paid the taxes over the years and then sold it.

      That's just the free market...don't like it, don't shop there.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Hey now that sounds like a good idea.

        Periodic maintenance fees in order to keep your app name.

        Seeing as you are already getting free hosting by Apple for your app,

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        If you don't use them then that's squatting, and you'll lose at arbitration. Last company I was at used to throw lawyers at that situation, but it isn't needed to even go that far.

      • by sohare (1032056) on Friday October 09, 2009 @01:51PM (#29696031)

        Listen, let's not confuse domain squatting - the act of sitting on a company's domain name waiting for them to want to build a web site - with the legitimate secondary market for domain names.

        The former was a big problem "in the old days" as companies were trying to get to the web and found someone squatting on their name. This has been largely solved in the courts now, and few companies are making their first move to the web anymore anyway.

        The secondary market for domains though is completely legit. I buy domain names that I expect to have value, whether I intend to use them or not, and then sell them to others when they want to use them. It's no different than you buying a piece of land and then someday selling it to someone who wants to build a shopping mall on it. You weren't squatting on the land, you just didn't know what (if) you were going to do with it. You paid for it, paid the taxes over the years and then sold it.

        That's just the free market...don't like it, don't shop there.

        Not exactly sure how you were modded insightful. There is a common link between domain squatting and the secondary market. Both are purveyed by douchebags. You give any fool a day and a dictionary and they can create a program which will spit out all kinds of permutations for names of bands, albums, businesses, movies, etc. You are in a heavy metal band and like trolls and swords? Why, let's name it Trollsword and start our website. Oh, but thanks to our friendly insightful secondary market guy, the name has been registered.

        The comparison of domain hoarding (which is what you refer to as the secondary market) to buying land is completely inappropriate. There is a huge difference between buying some swampland and putting the hours into coming up with a cogent plan to make it the next big yuppie vacation spot, hawking this idea to developers compared with just combining a few words from a database. If a plot of land looks like a rubbish heap it doesn't sell for much unless there is some plan to change it. You could maybe argue that domain hoarding is akin to some of the original American land barons. But they were douchebags too. Just like people who hoard water and sell it after some natural catastrophe. Douchebags. I mean a bloddy punk child can come up with these ideas to profit.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by secretcurse (1266724)
        No, domain squatting adds absolutly no value to the system and you are a fucking douchebag if you think it does. Sure, it's legal. But that doesn't mean you're not an asshole if you're a domain squatter. Stop splitting hairs. You're a domain squatter if you buy a domain that you don't intend to bring to market with a relevant web page. Call it "domain speculation" or whatever the hell else you'd like to call it, but it makes you an asshole who makes the internet a slightly more annoying place.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      correction: China does not negotiate with people they think are criminals.

      Tiananmen Square anyone?

      • by v1 (525388)

        Tiananmen Square was a protest, not an attempt at negotiations.

        but ya, china has no patience for protests for much the same reason. If you never give an inch on a tactic the 'opposition' tries, they will eventually quit trying it because then it's only being a waste of time, energy, and resources.

    • > If it wasn't possible for them to contact you or you to contact them to negotiate, domain squatting wouldn't be 1/100th the problem it is now. If it were that simple, you'd be running the show, then, right?

      If dev A is running a string of apps with a pattern to the name that is crucial to their marketing, but they are uploading/staging and thereby securing each name one by one, dev B can throw a hurdle into that plan by simply staging an app of their own with the next name or two or three etc. in t
  • by Dan East (318230) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:14AM (#29693447) Homepage Journal

    Why would a single developer (aka $100 fee) submit dozens or hundreds of apps at one time? With a 2 week turnaround it would make sense to only allow a handful (5?) apps to be submitted and waiting for approval by a single developer at once.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by King_TJ (85913)

      Yep.... I agree completely. This is also where that $100 "entry fee" comes into play as a positive thing... A lot of people were railing against it, initially, as I recall. But by putting up a financial barrier to entry like that, it gives Apple a decent way to make a ban on a specific developer have some "teeth" to it. (If you want to keep spamming the app store with dozens or hundreds of bogus apps, simply to be a squatter, or to bog down the submission process and make Apple look bad, or ?? -- at l

    • Yes, that would also stop the Chinese app "farms" that churn out a lot of the lame apps. Maybe also have a tiered system where a single company (or indy developer) can only have 5 products on the store at one time (excluding version updates), unless it pays extra for an extended license.

  • Welcome to mass market! The growth of the iPod, iPhone etc has put Apple in a new position. They will adjust no doubt, but this is new territory for them. Hey, when you catch the attention of DVD Jon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DoubleTwist [wikipedia.org]) you've made it...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:20AM (#29693547)

    Then how can these evil squatters make any money?

    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:33AM (#29693761) Homepage Journal

      Quite seriously, I suspect most of the squatters aren't in it for the money ... at least not yet. IIRC, it was a few years before people realized what a gold mine domain name squatting could be. Instead, I suspect most of the app name squatters are people who registered the name with the intention of making a real app, maybe registered similar names to prevent confusion, and then abandoned the project. (So, okay, they were in it for the money, but it was the money they hoped to make by selling the app, not by getting someone else to pay them for the name.) Similar things happened a lot in the early days of the web -- remember when there was a better than 50% chance that clicking on any random link would take you to an "under construction" banner? -- and to some degree they still happen on Sourceforge, although the system there is set up a little better to prevent the worst such stupidity.

    • By holding for ransom my plans to release an app named
      iPhoneiPhoneBoBiPhoneBananaFanaFoFiPhoneMeMiMoMifoneiPhone

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem is us humans. We all know statistically that there is going to be a percentage of us that, no matter what is done, will find a way to be the low-life scum-sucking dirt bag we're all capable of.

    And let's be honest with each other, can Apple HONESTLY check all these apps for approval? It's impossible. There is no way they invest enough money to check all these programs released... over 70,000, yeah right.

    They need to start using the user review system more which unfortunately is also run by the

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:36AM (#29693821)

    So lets see... we now have:

    - App name squatting
    - List jockeying (continuous updates to apps with no description of what was actually changed)
    - List flooding (releasing dozens of variations of the same app with only minor differences... like a picture of a kitty!)
    - Born-again apps (repeated removal and relaunching of the same app over and over)

    Did I miss anything else?

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And something that Apple will do nothing about because they market the fact they have 70,000+ apps.

  • A developer can pretend to submit an app, but abandon their submission at the last moment, avoiding the need to actually create an application, but keeping hold of the app's name. In limbo.

    iSquatter?

  • I can have 2 songs in my iTunes library called "Once". They're from different artists, so sorting is no problem.

    Also, IANAL, but I believe you can't trademark a common word like "Twitch".
  • This type of squatting is even nastier than domains, because there is no such concept as a top level domain. So with domains, there would be no problem if there is already a domain called ajax.com if you have a local soccer club called Ajax. You'd just register ajax.nl or something.

    The App Store knows about regions -- there are five regions in the app store. But this division is not across application names themselves. The app store does have another division: app category. Perhaps one solution would be to

    • by mgblst (80109)

      That is completely incorrect.

      There is nothing stopping this guy calling his app Twitch.nl, or Twitch.co.uk

      The app store will differentiate between them no problem.

      Most people just use the name, but there is nothing stopping this guy form doing that.

      The fact is, this guy is talking shit. He has no evidence except that someone has taken the name twitch, and a few other people have experience similar problems. This doesn't mean there is a conspiracy, or people squatting.

      One of the big problems with the App sto

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday October 09, 2009 @11:57AM (#29694197)

    There is no simple solution, really.

    Periodic flushing? Well, what if your app takes a long time to develop? Maybe you weren't thinking of a simple 99-cent app, but something that's more than a novelty? If you flush too often, you discourage people from these kinds of apps because now they have to keep reserving it, and someone else can snatch it. This applies to anything - big devs or small. And you can't say "let's make it once a year" - people being squatted don't want to wait a whole year. But "let's make it monthly" means apps undergoing slow development have to bear the burden.

    Flush apps with no binaries? Same issue - dev will just submit a skeleton app to hold it off.

    Limit of X apps/year? Well, that's just silly. Microsoft can pull it off, but the next /. headline you'll see is "Apple Limits Devs to 5 Apps". Sure it may help to avoid doing the next 10,000 flashlight and fart apps, but geez, that seems low and arbitrary. Good devs may find themselves caught in this as well - that's over 2 months of development per app, and some useful apps just don't command that sort of development time. Even a reasonable limit has to be rather high - probably around 100?

    First app with name submitted gets it? Well, then you have the patent deal - you deny the guy who submitted a few minutes later an app with the same name. There are probably going to be a ton of unintended consequences, too.

    Still, the Apple solution of non-negotiation (by not revealing the squatter's identity) is probably a good one - DNS squatters are in it for money, and they'll sell. Here, the name is reserved, but since you can't negotiate, all the squatter is doing is being an ass. There's no financial incentive to squat on a name because anyone wanting to use it can't find your details and contact you to pay $1000 for the name. So it's costing them $100/year with zero gain. At least domain squatters can get several thousand per name to help pay for the domain registrations. The Apple method leaves them $100 poorer each year - it's not listed on iTunes, there are no ads, and no one can contact you to buy the name.

    Maybe a solution is no developer can hold more than say, 5 names at any one time. Approval of an app removes that name from the list (so they're holding 4 names and can add one). Those extra names can be returned to the pool at any time - for example, a developer creates an app which can go under 5 possible names, then at the last minute they pick one and submits under that name. Since they have no use for the other 4, they can release them so freeing up more reserved name slots for their next app. Big dev houses probably already have multiple dev accounts, so they can reserve multiple names for multiple apps. 5 or 10 names reserved for apps in development ought to be enough. Implement it right (e.g., a dev can test to see if a name is taken before having to give up one of their existing ones) and it may reduce this problem.

    Still - why squat on the names? People can't buy it off of you, so there's no financial incentive (which is why there are so many domain squatters), other than being an ass.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      As an adjunct:

      1) Pay per app name is not a solution. People will complain about this continually. They already complain about the $100 yearly fee.

      2) Yes, squatters can set up websites so they can sell names, but unless Apple allows name transfer, there will always be a race condition between the squatter releasing the name and the developer claiming it. This can lead to squatters stealing names from each other, making it risky for everyone involved. Plus, they then have to market the website to devs so they

    • by sribe (304414)

      Periodic flushing? Well, what if your app takes a long time to develop? Maybe you weren't thinking of a simple 99-cent app, but something that's more than a novelty? If you flush too often, you discourage people from these kinds of apps because now they have to keep reserving it, and someone else can snatch it.

      Hi guys! Say, has anybody here ever heard of these things called "trademarks"? They sound really cool; maybe somebody should look into them!

  • by macraig (621737) <(mark.a.craig) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday October 09, 2009 @12:06PM (#29694327)

    "The solution seems simple: for Apple to flush all the apps that have not submitted binaries, and to repeat periodically."

    So...

    1. squat
    2. flush
    3. repeat
    4. errrr, profit?

  • I've seen quite a few ideas around here about clearing out blank entries. So what happens if I have an idea and a name and I want to register it at the very beginning of the development cycle so that I don't have to find a new name after I've done all the work? So for a month or two there's nothing there until I finish my dev cycle. So then apple clears out my entry and some squatter takes it. Guess I'll have to write a program that polls the app store for variations of my app's name.

  • Squatter, or just extreme slacker?

    When I first reached out to google for the definition of squatter [google.com], I got a bit confused as to where the illegality lay[gr.?]. The definition of squatter here [princeton.edu]seems to express two types, those with legal, and illegal. When I switched the search to cybersquatter [wikipedia.org], I then understood more about where the laws start, (though seems a amendment may be needed) here in the United States, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act [loc.gov] passed in 1999, an amendment to the Trademark Act 19 [blogspot.com]
  • Blackmail is such an ugly word.

    I'm not talking about blackmail.

    No, but I'm about to blackmail you, so I thought I'd bring it up.

    These app store squatters probably aimed to get on the ground floor of cyber squatting like it used to be done with domain names, though they just didn't count on app devs not being able to actually contact them to negotiate. Like a kidnapping without any ransom note.

  • Solves everything.

    If I write iApp and you write iApp, my official name will be iApp.mydomain.com and yours will be iApp.yourdomain.com

    You could even let apps default to root domain so you could install the twitter.com or cnn.com apps.

    In terms of people/companies trying to use same basic name, it would allow it, but if a copyright or trademark is held then that could be used to prevent copycat or fakes from the market place. Plus since it is domain based it allows people to know who actually owns t
    • by Snocone (158524)

      I believe we will see the iPhone relegated to a small fringe market share of mobile device after it's initial success. With it loosing out to the more open and hardware agnostic Android OS, similar to the sliver OS X holds after losing to Windows for the exact same reasons.

      No, the reasons were a) big business perceiving IBM as a business computer maker and Apple as a consumer computer maker, and b) IBM was insanely stupid in allowing Microsoft to compete with PC-DOS. All subsequent developments follow logic

      • by jackspenn (682188)
        My theory is that Apple lost because Windows had more apps. While, I use Windows and Linux, Windows has more apps than Linux in the desktop environment.

        When it came to supporting more hardware, making development easier, having better APIs/docs, being more open, supporting 3rd party devices, being more cost affective, having more choices and soon on is how Windows won the race to get the most applications. Which in turn is why it won the war for desktop market share.

        But those are the very reasons th
        • by Snocone (158524)

          My theory is that Apple lost because Windows had more apps

          Your theory is wrong. Apple lost to Windows because big business had standardized on DOS because of IBM's reputation.

          When it came to supporting more hardware, making development easier, having better APIs/docs, being more open, supporting 3rd party devices, being more cost affective, having more choices and soon on is how Windows won the race to get the most applications.

          *boggles in disbelief*

          Just how old are you, kid? What you say there is exactly a

    • If I write iApp and you write iApp, my official name will be iApp.mydomain.com and yours will be iApp.yourdomain.com

      [...]

      Now because this is relatively simple and straight forward, easily solves the problem, but lacks ... "style" and more importantly doesn't make Apple any additional revenue, I do not expect them to sign off on such a solution.

      No, it's not just a question of "style", it's a question of usability. Turning the iPhone app namespace into an Eclipse-like plugin directory namespace might work for you, you think like a programmer (a Java programmer most likely), but it's just not going to cut it for the average consumer/user usability-wise.

      For one thing, it would shrink the available iPhone namespace even further. Take for example the name "Twitch", which is the name the original submitter is complaining that he couldn't get. Good

  • So, apple doesn't bother to test the applications uploaded to their site? How do they plan to checks for maleware? Let a problem happen then react to it?

    They'd really only have to test to ensure an app worked like it said it does and it doesn't harm the system. Granted that may be a lot of extra effort, but it cancels out problems like this very easily and prevents people from writing harmful programs. While it may be a low blow, reserving a name with a 'hello world' program is legal as long as your progra

    • by toriver (11308)

      Where did you get the idea that Apple don't test apps? How can you even deduce something even close to that from the summary or the article?

      When no binary is uploaded (as in this case) there is nothing to test anyway, but also nothing to approve and put in the store.

      It is more Android users who need to be wary about malware since they can download apps outside of the "official" store.

  • and the system has exploits (like everything does)... then exploits happen for money.

    we need a new approach to human interaction, culture, and purpose.

    Money really *is* the root of most/all evils in this world, yet everything is based around it. And we wonder why nothing changes...

    • Want to play Kumbaya? There's an app for that!
      • Want to play Kumbaya? There's an app for that!

        Die, troll. Wtf are you worth? Jokes and potshots?

        Jock mentality is childish and common; grow up.

  • "They're worse than domain name squatters though, because you can't even enter into negotiation with them. You don't know who they are, or where they are."

    Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the per

  • Even Better solution than checking binaries, is have performance dictate your existence. If you dont have 50 or 100 in the first 1-3 months of existence, you have been deemed unworthy by the unwashed masses and your App name goes back into the pool. There should be no guarantee that your piece of crap app will forever own the name iAmAwesome just because you were the first to get it. You as the developer lose nothing but the name. Let's stop rewarding quickness and start rewarding quality. Squatters di
  • Wrong, the correct solution is for Apple to relinquish their vice-like control with the Apple Store and open up the iPhone/iTouch for people to do want they want with their expensive hardware. The 'squatters' are merely showing an example of how Apple's sole-source mentality isn't perfect, and how the red-taped complications around the Store is a farce. (oh, and thanks a freakin' lot Apple, for first charging $10 for the iTouch firmware update in June, then another $5 in September. Stop making people pay fo

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