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Monday, 25 May 2009 11:06

Eucalyptus gets past App Store wowsers

The Eucalyptus e-book reader for the iPhone has gone on sale at the App Store following an initial rejection by Apple.

One of the problems with Apple's decision to individually approve applications that developers submit to the App Store is that some things get through when they (probably) shouldn't, and others are rejected when they should get through the process.

The latest example of the second kind is Eucalyptus, an e-book reader.

Eucalyptus downloads and formats books from the Project Gutenberg collection, which mainly consists of out-of-copyright titles but also includes some in-copyright items with the permission of the rightsholder.

And in accordance with the Project Gutenberg licence, Eucalyptus's developer pays 20 percent of the gross profits to the project, so let's not hear anything about charging for other people's work - the fee is for the software, not the content.

But back to the rejection-approval flip-flop.

What happened was that whichever Apple employee was given the job of vetting Eucalyptus, he or she noticed that one of the books available for download was the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana - and promptly rejected it.

What happened next? Please read on.

This overlooked the fact that the application did not "contain" the material deemed objectionable, but could merely be used to display it. As developer James Montgomerie pointed out, the same content could be displayed using Apple's own Safari browser, the Google app, or other ebook readers such as Stanza.

Montgomerie submitted a revised version of Eucalyptus that specifically filtered out the Kama Sutra, but Apple changed tack and approved the non-filtering version.

Eucalypus is now available in the App Store for $US9.99/$A12.99.

But as far as App Store approvals and rejections on non-technical grounds are concerned, things need fixing.

Too many applications are being withdrawn after approval in the light of public outcries (think Baby Shaker or I Am Rich) or being approved after attention is drawn to their unwarranted rejection.

We're all only human, but you can see why some developers have been discouraged from working on the iPhone/iPod touch platform, despite the money some of their peers are raking in.

It's possible to spend several months working on a serious application, only to have it knocked back by Apple. And that would be a lot more painful than if you had only invested your spare time over a few weeks.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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