Why Distributing 3rd Party Apps through iTunes Is a Good Thing

by Tanner Godarzi Feb 18, 2008

It’s rumored that Apple will charge users for 3rd party applications and distribute them through iTunes. This is the ideal situation for application distribution.

We’ve become accustomed to downloading applications directly on our iPhones using Installer, which was developed by the hacking community. Since then, a plethora of 3rd party software has been made readily available significantly, increasing the value of the iPhone. However, the ever looming SDK by Apple will disrupt the hacking community, but finally bring all the great software we’ve used to a much bigger audience: through iTunes, or at least we hope so.

There are two big reasons why distributing iPhone Apps through iTunes would be a great thing: application integrity and a prosperous development community.

Although we lose the convenience of having access to 3rd party iPhone apps wherever we are, the risk of something going bad is always there. We have yet to experience malware distribution through Installer or any 3rd party app, but the process does involve risk, and if anything should go wrong, your iPhone would need to be restored. Not the greatest thing if you’re on the go or away from your computer.

It’s a given that Apple will have to work in a validation system and warn users of the risks, if any. Consolidating all of this into iTunes streamlines the process and should ensure the end user gets what they want without the fear of something going wrong.

However, Apple can make it work so apps will be available on the iPhone itself. The music store has already been modified to work on the iPhone, but over Wi-Fi. Apple could integrate the same interface for use with an application directly.

Developers can benefit from a consolidated distribution system such as iTunes. Apple has proven it’s the opportune platform for media distribution; adding iPhone apps shouldn’t be too difficult. The greater benefit would be the ability to charge for applications. This will directly stimulate major players (Adobe, Microsoft etc.) to enter the arena and off killer apps that would blow other phones out of the water.

But in the end it comes down to security; the conveniences are a side effect of it. It’s a lot easier to break a phone than a computer, but people rely on the former more than the latter.


  • Pushing apps through iTunes means regulation. The upside, of course, is the hope that Apple maintains a stringent standards that application developers must meet in order to publish an application. The downside is that not every application becomes available. Specifically, if Apple or AT&T;doesn’t want an application on the phone, or on the network, you’ll never get it.
    Letting anyone create an application and install it does create problems. One only needs to observe the Palm ecosystem. There are good applications and bad applications. Third-party resources like forums and reviews from credible web sites (this one for example) go a long way towards solving this problem.
    To summarize, it’s the age old argument; sacrifice time and let me decide or sacrifice control to let someone decide for me.

    kettle had this to say on Feb 18, 2008 Posts: 4
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