I found this take on what Apple’s doing wrong with the iPhone app store quite persuasive.
They treat iPhone apps the way they treat the music they sell through iTunes. Apple is the channel; they own the user; if you want to reach users, you do it on their terms. The record labels agreed, reluctantly. But this model doesn’t work for software. It doesn’t work for an intermediary to own the user. The software business learned that in the early 1980s, when companies like VisiCorp showed that although the words “software” and “publisher” fit together, the underlying concepts don’t. Software isn’t like music or books. It’s too complicated for a third party to act as an intermediary between developer and user. And yet that’s what Apple is trying to be with the App Store: a software publisher. And a particularly overreaching one at that, with fussy tastes and a rigidly enforced house style.
Rafe also thinks Apple’s going about things the wrong and proposes a different governance model:
What I do think Apple should move toward is a constitutional monarchy. Apple’s executives remain the heads of state, and are ultimately the final authority on iPhone-related matters, but for everyday purposes the rule of law exists. Apple would write a constitution of sorts for iPhone developers and users, and get rid of the hidden, arbitrary rules. They’d create an open process for developers seeking approval for their applications, communicate reasons for denial, and give the developers a chance to appeal such rulings.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Apple is going to change any time soon.