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Squatters Abusing iPhone App Store

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-even-for-the-money dept.

Cellphones 121

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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Pretty Shortsighted Solution (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693173)

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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (5, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (5, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695889)

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!

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (2, Insightful)

Elshar (232380) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694167)

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

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (3, Interesting)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693331)

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:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693655)

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 on iPhone apps.

Of course, I personally think that the entire app process with Apple is ridiculous. So I may be a little biased on the whole subject.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

Deosyne (92713) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694625)

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 almost every other aspect, particularly around how Apple is micromanaging how I can use it, has me asking WTF on a daily basis.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (2, Informative)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693995)

There's a $100 yearly fee to develop for iPhone.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29697075)

I assume the GP means a "per app" fee. If the problem is people registering lots of app names, charging per app name might just cut down on that.

Just as long as Apple doesn't come up with some sort of "app name tasting" scheme...

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

RedK (112790) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693351)

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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693361)

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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (3, Insightful)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (4, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (3, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694225)

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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

esme (17526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693807)

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 app store, or reject the submission and free up the name. There is no good reason to have the names be in limbo.

-Esme

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694057)

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.

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694489)

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:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693843)

the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate. Ball's in your court.

Futurama much?

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (2, Insightful)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694023)

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:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (2, Interesting)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695483)

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 app later as an update? What about the people who bought the $.99 Hello World! app and were happily enjoying using it to greet everyone they meet, and suddenly they get an app update that makes it into a fart app?!

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29695819)

Sweet! the iWhoopieCushion. Gotta love that fart app. Just need to be able to beam it to someones iPhone from across the room and make it start up automatically. I wonder if there is a hacker app for that?

Re:Pretty Shortsighted Solution (1)

aetherworld (970863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29696125)

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...

flushing apps (5, Interesting)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:flushing apps (1)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694465)

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...

Re:flushing apps (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29696359)

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.

Re:flushing apps (1)

Snocone (158524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29697761)

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.

Re:flushing apps (1)

curunir (98273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29698877)

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 that really be so bad?

Simpler solution (5, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693299)

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.

Re:Simpler solution (1)

RaigetheFury (1000827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693463)

Except, know coders, some retard decided to make the app name the Primary Key in a database.

Re:Simpler solution (2, Funny)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693809)

"Sorry, the name ID is already taken!"

Re:Simpler solution (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693973)

The problem is that people will be assholes no matter what system you use.

Unfortunately that's true of any problem.

Shouldn't apple at least check the apps (-1, Redundant)

clandonald (1652847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693381)

their store is selling? I mean the app could be anything or nothing. If a app on apple's store sucks apple should be responsible as the retailer. Quality control needs to be implemented.

Re:Shouldn't apple at least check the apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693433)

please learn to read
I don't ask you to read the article just the summary

Re:Shouldn't apple at least check the apps (-1, Flamebait)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694109)

they do you fucking idiot, how about you know what you're talking about before talking about it

Re:Shouldn't apple at least check the apps (2, Funny)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694503)

looks like somebody needs a hug

Re:Shouldn't apple at least check the apps (1)

0110011001110101 (881374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29697847)

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood...

Not short sighted really... (4, Interesting)

Numbah One (821914) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not short sighted really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693759)

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.

So simply call it whatever you want and indicate that it's just supposed to print Hello World! or flash the user's name on the screen. Or add two numbers together? As for it not doing "fuck all," I like how these subjective parameters come out on how to decide what's legit and what's not.

Re:Not short sighted really... (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693819)

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.

Re:Not short sighted really... (1)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693851)

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]

EASY solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693411)

Charge $20 for an application. They obviously review each and ever app on the site. If it fails, not only do you lose the $20, but they have the option of banning your account if the app is obviously a place holder.

Should the application be successful, your money is refunded.

If you take the profit out of squatting, people won't do it.

Re:EASY solution (2, Insightful)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693485)

Right, like Apple needs a financial incentive to reject applications...

Re:EASY solution (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694153)

You've obviously never submitted to the App Store. I can promise you that no matter how legit your application is, it will get rejected at least once a version.

Re:EASY solution (1)

jslater25 (1005503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694287)

If you were to start charging $20 for an application, I would assume that the majority of new free apps would then start to diminish. Who would be willing to shell out money for nothing (besides Dire Straits).

Re:EASY solution (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695279)

Who would be willing to shell out money for nothing (besides Dire Straits).

Well it's a good deal if you get your chicks for free..

Re:EASY solution (1)

Doggabone (1025394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29697489)

Dire Straits wanted money for nothing. Also, chicks for free. Lemme tell you, them guys ain't dumb. Sure beats moving and installing home appliances and electronics.

not really worse (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693443)

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 (4, Interesting)

jours (663228) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:not really worse (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694059)

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,

Re:not really worse (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694179)

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.

Re:not really worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29695827)

The secondary market for patents though is completely legit. I register patents 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.

What do you mean, that's not what you said?

Re:not really worse (3, Insightful)

sohare (1032056) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:not really worse (2, Interesting)

secretcurse (1266724) | more than 4 years ago | (#29696417)

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.

Re:not really worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29697317)

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.

The problem with your analysis is that domain names are not property. They are simply an address, like a street address, which points to an actual piece of property (a website). If you don't believe me, try buying a domain name which is the same as a company's trademark (or a trademark followed by the word "sucks") and see how long you last. Try redirecting www.pleasekillme.com to www.whitehouse.gov and see how long you last.

Domain names can be bought and sold, but they are not merely property. At least in the US they are subject to many laws which apply to communications (not property).

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

Considering that we have to go through one of a handful of registrars to buy domain names, and even they only get their authority to register domain names from a single organization (ICANN), may I ask where exactly this "free market" for domain names may be found?

Re:not really worse (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694037)

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

Tiananmen Square anyone?

Re:not really worse (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695451)

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.

Another solution... (3, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693447)

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:Another solution... (2, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693673)

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 least it's gonna cost you $100 a pop, each time they discover you and ban you.)

Re:Another solution... (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693923)

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.

Dear Apple (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693467)

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...

There's an app for that (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693511)

If you want a bricked iPhone, there's an app for that you can't refuse.
If you want an exploding battery on an iPhone, there's an app for that.
At Crapple, we strive to give you a crappy overpriced product for you fudgepacking, twinkie sucking faggots out there.

Woot! I pissed off the fucktarded shitdot sheeple (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694029)

And got a Flamebait mod! WOOT! The fucktarded shitdot sheple can't handle the truth that Communist Opensores and Crapple both cater to the fudgepacking, twinkie sucking fucktarded faggots (all members of shitdot) who should go slit their fucking wrists.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY
OR WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED
MOD POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE OR BETTER
YET GO SLIT YOUR FUCKING WRISTS
FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE

You don't know who they are, or where they are. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693547)

Then how can these evil squatters make any money?

Re:You don't know who they are, or where they are. (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693761)

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.

Re:You don't know who they are, or where they are. (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29693943)

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

Re:You don't know who they are, or where they are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694047)

Maybe creating a webpage that can be found with googling "iphone stupidname" ?

Re:You don't know who they are, or where they are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29695405)

Then how can these evil squatters make any money?

Volume!

Realistically there is NO Solution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693745)

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 same type of person I mentioned before. I hate squatters with all my being but is there are way around them... not in a free, capitalistic way there isn't and I'm willing to live with them in order for freedom.

Just one more thing in a long line of abuses... (3, Insightful)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Just one more thing in a long line of abuses... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694315)

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

Can some iPhanboi explain it to me in small words? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693887)

I thought the whole point of the AppStore was to bless apps before they're posted. How does Apple anoint a nonexistent binary?

ARE YOU SAYING APPLE IS ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY AND DOESN"T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THEIR USERS??/??

biz8atch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29693901)

This post up. contact t0 see if

Squatters IN Apple store? (1)

c00rdb (945666) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694041)

When I saw this I thought it was about the people that go in the apple store and play around with the live demo iPhones. You could call anyone with these random numbers. One time a friend texted me from one of the display units and my number remained in the phone. Following that I kept getting random "fu" and"ahole" text messages for two weeks.

Re:Squatters IN Apple store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694451)

Hate to break it to you, but I bought the phone. Fuck you, asshole.

Isn't there an app for that? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694117)

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?

Same names should be allowed (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694121)

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".

Re:Same names should be allowed (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694475)

or like "Windows" or "Apple"? Yeh, you might not be a lawyer.

Re:Same names should be allowed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694691)

I also anal. want to hook up sometime? I'm a clean twink, 20, 5'8", 135, blond, shaved. I like water sports, fisting, and leather, but pretty much anything goes.

Even nastier than normal (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694125)

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 let apps have the same name, but only one in each category.

No simple solution, really... (5, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:No simple solution, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29694593)

Why squat on the name? In case I ever feel like making that app in the future obviously. I'd pay $100/name if I was serious about it, but not if I was just trying to prevent competition. Or they could include X names with your $100 registration or whatever, and then charge for more. If each name was costing people money this problem should sort itself out soon enough.

Re:No simple solution, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29695751)

Yeah, I think 1 unused name for your $100 registration is fine. If you really need a second name for an app that has no binary, get a second account.

Re:No simple solution, really... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694769)

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'd go and buy names (again, with the risk of it being claimed). Of course, Apple can always impose a quarantine period to increase the risk of name transfers so no one can claim a name. Imagine how worthwhile it would be for a dev to pay $1000 for "twitch" only to risk not getting it and having someone else take it.

3) Allowing duplicate app names is not a solution. Imagine doing a search for "GPS" and pulling up 1,000 apps named "GPS". Popular apps will have many phonies, and you can't have Apple ensuring "name quality" - "Your app was rejected because the name matched another app in the store." That's just stupid, and adds more headache to the already troublesome Apple approval process (really, you want to give Apple haters anothe reason?).

Re:No simple solution, really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29696399)

What prevents someone from advertising the app name on some auction-like site and then sell it?

Bathroom routine? (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

How do you prove you're working on an app? (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694413)

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.

Squatters, or Followers of the Subgenius? (1)

Globally Mobile (1635415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694629)

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 1946 [blogspot.com] also known as the Lanham Act [bitlaw.com] .

Where am I going with this? How does one determine good faith? How do you differentiate between a person who might struggle to get it up (specially if a deadline looms overhead, further if that deadline is tightened) and one who is squatting maliciously, awaiting a time when they can resell the slot to someone else who has developed the application, put in the sweat, time, thought, tears, hours, etc...
To end with a wee bit of entertainment amidst all this legal jumbo-gumbo, figured I might throw a little head-nod to J.R. Bob [deviantart.com] "Dobbs" (not MS's failed project [toastytech.com] ). Slacking is an artform, a religion, one that many take quite seriously. So much so they used it in the naming of a Linux distro [slackware.com] . Slacker? Or Ill-memes willful disconsolation?

Short-sighted on squatters' part (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694671)

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.

Incorporate domain name into applicaiton names (1, Interesting)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694729)

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 the domain and thus application should there be a problem.

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. Rather I expect them to impose some sort of filtering or fee based solution instead.

Now since Google Android is open and evolving faster then iPhone, it may be a better fit for them.

RANT

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. Just like how Windows had more Apps, so to will Android. With Android I can do crazy things like program it on Mac, Windows or Linux PC. With Android I can do crazy things like write tether apps, release or install apps outside of market, and allow them run in background or as service. I can even write emulators, run-time environments, etc. By end of year their will be an Android device for all major carriers as it is carrier agnostic, hardware agnostic, IDE agnostic, base computer agnostic, etc.

/RANT

Re:Incorporate domain name into applicaiton names (1)

Snocone (158524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29697841)

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 logically.

If your thesis is correct, how is it that although Linux is more open and hardware agnostic than the Windows OS, it has not taken over from Windows on the desktop?

Re:Incorporate domain name into applicaiton names (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29699007)

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 that I am predicting that Android will dominate shortly in the PDA/mobile market. It supports more hardware, it makes development easier, it makes licensing easier, it supports more 3rd party devices, it is more cost effective, it offers more choices and so on. Apple is in the lead today, just like the Apple ][ was in the lead in the earlier 80s and lost so to will the iPhone. Sure it will be cool and trendy, but it will not be the market leader.

Just like their closed minded ways hurt them eventually in the desktop space, so will it hurt them in the mobile space. Now there are things they could start soon to fend off the threat, for instance they could invest time in allowing development from just Intel based Macs to various OSes, like Windows and Linux as well. They could try to expand to additional carriers when the AT&T exclusive offer period ends, they could open up and allow programs to run background services, widgets, run-time environments, emulators and whatnot. They could work to expand 3rd party device support, etc. But that is not who Apple is, they are little fascists who need to control everything, the benefit is that there is less to break or go wrong with products, but for me, I prefer freedom to safety any day, so cannot see the iPhone winning in the long run, but perhaps more people prefer to give up freedom these days for things to just work and I am completely wrong. Time will decide, not a /. flame war.

Re:Incorporate domain name into applicaiton names (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29698063)

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 luck getting that name as a domain name right now, the domain Twitch.com was taken off the market in 1997 (according to its whois records).

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure you're underestimating the value of what a good usable name can do for an app. Now, I'm not one of those special people, I do not have an iPhone, but I do have an awesome unlocked Nokia phone however. Technically-speaking, my phone is actually far superior to the iPhone in many ways, but if there is one thing that drives me nuts, it's the inconsistent user interface and the inconsistent *naming* conventions that Nokia uses. And actually, me saying "naming conventions" is probably going too far. As far as I can tell, Nokia probably doesn't have a naming convention (aside from just requiring unique names). And the names of the apps, even the names of the apps developed by Nokia itself, are pretty inconsistent across the board. And that makes it much more difficult to find the apps I'm looking for, or even find again the apps that I'm used to using. And by constraining the available iPhone namespace even further, as you seem to be suggesting, you would only make it harder for developers to find good usable names for their users to actually understand and easily use.

Apple should limit squats per account (1)

wubti (1434011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694789)

Paying $100 a year, you can publish any number of apps, but you can only have X (say 5 or 10) apps that have only name and no submission. At $10-20 per squat, you prevent just plain squatting, especially (as has already been argued) considering that there is no financial incentive to do so.

Testing? (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 4 years ago | (#29694893)

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 program just displays 'hello world'.

when the ends is money... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695237)

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...

Doesn't Meet the Criteria for Squatting... (1)

automag (834164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29695619)

"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 person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price. (Wikipedia)

Since according to the TFA there can beno profit motive to the act of registering multiple app names it s not really squatting. It may be annoying. It may need to be fixed. But it's not squatting.

# of Downloads (1)

Duane13 (1340371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29697815)

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 die and good Apps live, its the Law of the Jungle at its finest!

Deleting them all isn't the solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29698473)

I have to say, that I myself am squatting some names, but they are modifications or shortened/abbreviated versions of our existing titles. Eg: We have a "MyGame Pro", and I don't want someone else to steal "MyGame". And for a few titles we are squatting the pro version (Eg. We have "MyOtherGame" released and squatting "MyOtherGame Pro").

I agree the squatting is ridiculous, but if Apple were to delete all the squats it would be devastating to some of us if someone came and stole one of our game names. I do not think deleting is a good idea, but I do think it should give you the contact info of the person if you try to submit an app with a name that is in use. So at least we can try to resolve the conflict. Possibly make a time-limit policy and/or a cost for "squatting". Maybe no cost for modifications of your app names though (Eg. App Pro)

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