A New Grey Market in iPhone Apps?

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podcaster - iphone appsTwo weeks ago, the app "PodCaster" from independent developer "Alex S" was rejected form the App Store for "duplicating iTunes functionality". The story was documented in the developer's blog and then widely covered in the blogosphere. Then, last week, the developer announced that the App could be purchased on the "Grey Market", taking advantage of the Apple "Ad Hoc" distribution method. A website was set up for this purpose, and we decided to try it out.

It's not 100% clear at this point whether selling an app using the "Ad Hoc" method violates the Apple Developer Terms and Conditions. The initial thinking behind the Ad Hoc process was to allow distribution of beta apps to friends, family and beta testers prior to final launch on the App Store. But its clear that with the Apple backlog and harsh and sometimes random app acceptance policies, the need for such a market exists.

The grey market distribution process is a bit clumsy, but it works. Basically, you send payment to the developer via paypal and you provide your iPhone UUID. The developer then emails you a download link which you drag to your applications folder on iTunes. The app shows up on your phone at the next sync.

The PodCast App itself is excellent. It allows you to create libraries of videos and podcasts without having to sync with iTunes. A great video showing the functionality is here.

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