Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An IPhone App Setback

Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster and a titan in the world of Cocoa programming recently tweeted some bad news. The free Delicious Library 2 companion iPhone App has been pulled from the App Store and won't be returning. Why, you ask?

Amazon's Afilliate Program API License Agreement, section 4(e) specifically prohibits the use of the API from programs that run on mobile devices.

I doubt Wil's the only one who has used the APIs from an iPhone App, so just thought I'd spread the word. If you're doing it, you're breaking the agreement and could be opening yourself up to liability.

That aside, I think it's pretty stupid and shortsighted of Amazon to make this particular and arbitrary restriction. It's also rather vague. What about using the API from web-apps accessed from an iPhone? What about accessing it from a Mac that's tethered through an iPhone? Amazon only stands to gain from traffic being directed their way. Sure, they could try and monopolize the mobile space, but most products that use the API don't directly compete with Amazon in any meaningful way.


Heroic Autobot said...

Amazon has done this before: http://pcworld.about.com/od/softwareservices/Amazon-Denies-Consent-for-IPho.htm.

Like you, I don't know why they don't allow this sort of thing, unless it's because of some sort of licensing agreement. Maybe it's part of the deal with Sprint to include allow Kindle to use EVDO. This sort of crap sounds like something a cell company would put in a contract.

Jeff LaMarche said...

Yes, but the interesting thing is that DL2 doesn't actually use the API. No API code at all. But, it did have access to data pulled from the API by the Mac version of DL2, and that was enough to put Wil in violation of the agreement.

Heroic Autobot said...

Wow, I didn't realize the iPhone app wasn't using the API directly. Rereading the 4e clause, this is still not permitted, but this just increases the craziness of Amazon's decision.

I would love to know Amazon's reasoning for this.

Jeff LaMarche said...

I suspect you'd have a hard time finding anyone at Amazon who even could explain their stance. Stuff like that happens at big corporations, even "good ones" that have good reputations. Hopefully somebody there will figure out what they want to do and clarify the license in a reasonable fashion.

shingoo said...

Thanks for that info. I was just playing around with the idea of using the API in my iPhone app. Saved me a lot of time.

Matt said...

Yeah, I was working on an app for a competing website (LibraryThing.com). I had it laid out and basically working but now there is no point to finishing it off. Sad.