If It Walks Like A Telco and Talks Like A Telco…

Anybody remember a few years ago when Steve Jobs said that Apple wasn’t that enthusiastic about launching a handset because they’d have to sell it through US operators — which he referred to as “the four orifices”? Steve’s view that the operators made life difficult for innovators and stifled innovation weren’t too far off, but it must not have been a view he held too deeply, given the way Apple got into bed with AT&T and other operators around the globe to sell the iPhone, rather than selling it directly to users.

Others have claimed it before, but it would certainly appear that Apple’s transformation into an orifice of its own is complete, given the way it’s refused to allow a podcasting app to be distributed through the iPhone App Store. The app, called Podcaster, lets users stream, manage and download podcasts directly from their iPhone or iPod Touch. Apple says since the app “assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes,” and therefore it won’t be allowed in the App Store.

Of course, the iPhone and iPod Touch can’t access podcasts without syncing their device with their computer. Accessing podcasts over the air, wirelessly, would seem to be a pretty natural capability of the devices, but El Jobso and Co. have decided that users shouldn’t be able to do so. What’s the harm in selling this application that adds this nice bit of functionality for interested users? Particularly given that Apple doesn’t profit from distributing podcasts through iTunes, or from the sync-only model, why do they care?

“Think different,” etc etc etc. But when it comes to mobile, does Apple really think any differently than all the other operators and handset vendors and platform providers it and its overzealous army of supporters have so long derided?

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