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UPDATE: Apple not banning all radio station apps

Facepalm.

Well, it appears the web was a little too quick to jump on the whole “Apple is banning single station radio apps” thing. And count me as among the hysterics. Apple isn’t banning apps that come from radio stations. Trevor Long at Your Tech Life heard directly from Apple and developers. It seems Apple objects to one particular company’s radio apps because they are all the same, but with different radio stream URLs put in. (I don’t see the problem with this myself, but it’s a whole world away from banning all radio station apps.) Writes Long: “…if a station has an app developed, and submitted under their own name, it should breeze through.”

Credit to LR commenter “robusdin” for pointing this out. Thank you.

We believe in making corrections when they are due, and being transparent about the process. Therefore, rather than kill the previous story, we have left it up and kept the link the same. That way, anyone following the link via a tweet or Facebook link will see this corrected version. To read the embarrassingly incorrect version, follow the jump. We apologize to our readers who rightly expect better of us, and we apologize to Apple. We also need a beer…

(OUTDATED COPY. APPLE IS NOT BANNING ALL RADIO APPS.) Apple has decided to stop approving radio station apps from the iTunes store. The reasoning? There are now radio station aggregator apps out there that can pull in tons of stations, so why have an app that’s a “one trick pony?” In a letter to the editor to the Radio site, developer Jim Barcus writes that:

“On Nov. 10, 2010, we had 10 radio station apps rejected by Apple because Apple says “single station app are the same as a FART app and represent spam in the iTunes store” and Apple “will no longer approve any more radio station apps unless there are hundreds of stations on the same app.”

Barcus, president of DJB Radio Apps (which develops radio station mobile apps) also points out that it is the aggregator, not the stations, that is in violation of Apple’s own iTunes developer terms of service:

“Apple even has a rule 3.1 in the App review rules that says ” 3.1 Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.” Why if rule 3.1 is good enough for Apple, why do radio stations have to be forced to have its competitors on the same app?”

Barcus reached out to Steve Jobs and got a typically brief reply: “Sorry, we’ve made our decision.” Furthermore, Apple has decreed that “single station app(s) are the same as a FART app and represent spam in the iTunes store”

That’s what Apple thinks of your radio app. It’s a spam fart.

This is nuts on so many levels. Most notable is the fact that single-station apps do more than just let you listen to a station. Some blog commenters have argued that “you don’t buy a radio to listen to a single station.” Bad argument. Many (most?) radio station apps feature text news headlines, easy ways to contact your favorite host, and do far more that rebroadcast the station’s signal. Public radio apps even feature a way to (albeit indirectly, thanks to Apple rules) make donations to the station. You know – the money that keeps them going.

And why pick on radio? What about newspaper and TV apps? Aren’t those “one-trick” as well? After all, Google News aggregates their stories, too, and you can get Google News through the Google app featured at the iTunes store. At a time when we are encouraging media outlets to expand beyond their legacy platform, Apple is telling them to get lost.

Barcus, who certainly has a personal interest in developing radio apps, is calling on stations to write to Steve Jobs directly. (His email, should you be so inclined, is SJobs@Apple.com. I hope that the RTDNA and NAB will get into this battle as well. The future of their clients is being halted by an arbitrary rule. I’m as big an Apple fanboy as they come, and I’ve always saluted Apple’s forward-thinking ideas. This is backwards.

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