Jay Freeman stays plenty busy with his graduate studies in computer science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In his spare time he’s worked on applications for the iPhone, but now he’s competing against Apple itself.
As I wrote about last Friday, Freeman launched The Cydia Store, an alternative to the App Store, out of frustration with Apple’s policies. He couldn’t get his own Cycorder video recording application approved by Apple which has blocked other iPhone apps it says duplicates functions Apple already provides. Cycorder doesn’t currently compete with any Apple program for the iPhone, though the company is expected to release video recording capability for the device at some point.
To put this all in perspective, Apple’s restrictions come at a time of unprecedented growth in iPhone software. The iPhone App Store has reportedly passed 25,000 applications, which gives it more applications available for download than for the venerable Windows Mobile (at about 20,000 apps), a platform that’s many years older.
Clearly thousands of developers are happy to live under the friendly dictatorship of Sir Steve, but not Jay Freeman. “Apple drives a lot of developers insane,” he told me. “It’s not just Apple saying no, sometimes they effectively mothball some program. I’ve heard stories of companies waiting two to three months with no word from Apple either way.
Freeman’s alternative is Cydia, an App Store for jail broken iPhones). He plans to charge developers no more than the thirty percent commission Apple charges developers for distribution and payment processing, perhaps less. But Apple says users who jail break their iPhone void their warranty. There’s also a chance Apple could harm Cydia’s usefulness — or usability period — in future iPhone software updates.
Going beyond the App Store
But Freeman is undeterred. He plans to take Cydia a step beyond the App Store with a social media twist by offering users a way to see what applications friends are using and a rating system.
“The ratings and comments will be tied to Facebook Connect so you can see profile pictures and things like that.”
As for Apple, he said he hopes they see his effort as something that helps the iPhone, but admits, “I’m not holding my breath.”
“They lock people like me out with interesting products and that’s what forced this alternative market,” said Freeman.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.