The Agenda

Eliot Van Buskirk on Apple’s Approach to Innovation

I greatly enjoyed Eliot Van Buskirk’s latest post on Apple’s relationship with app developers:

Take Camera+, the camera app for the iPhone that has grossed $2.7 million in sales revenue for its creator Lisa Bettany (and her team). At the AdAge Creativity and Technology conference in New York City on Thursday, Bettany discussed the odd history of her app, which has been downloaded over three million times from iTunes leading to unexpected riches for its creator.

Last August, Apple pulled Camera+ from iTunes because its new “VolumeSnap” feature allegedly violated Apple’s iPhone Developer Program License Agreement by allowing users to shoot photos using the iPhone’s “up volume” button. In its rejection notice, Apple explained, “Your application cannot be added to the App Store because it uses iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion.”

But it turns out that confusion isn’t always such a bad thing:

Earlier this week, Steve Jobs stood on a stage (watch) to announce a great new feature for the iPhone’s built-in camera app: the ability to take photos using the device’s up-volume button, which Jobs heralded as a fantastic new way to take capture a moment with a photo quickly, without hunting around for the camera app and waiting for it to load. In other words, one of Apple’s big new ideas is precisely the one for which it banned Camera+ last year.

Gotta love these guys. I have no problem with this kind of behavior. I just wish that Apple didn’t go bananas when the tables are turned and the Lisa Bettany’s of the world borrow and build on ideas from Apple. 

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