To Netshare or not?

Apparently Apple can’t decide whether or not they want to (or are allowed to) sell Nullriver Inc.’s very cool Netshare app for the iPhone. This app addresses the need to allow your laptop to surf the internet wirelessly via your iPhone’s 3G or EDGE data connection. In effect turning your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Something I wrote about as a cool idea back in April. Apple pulled this app from the App store with no explanation to the developer. Then it was posted again and I bought it. I experimented with it yesterday and while it wasn’t perfect, it did work.

This app was somewhat controversial as it appears to violate AT&T’s agreement (I’m not a lawyer, so don’t ask?). Something to the effect that you can’t use an iPhone tethered to your laptop in this manner. That in and of itself is odd seeing that AT&T does allow this with other phones they sell.

Today I decided to add some new pictures to my iPhone so I sycn’d it with iTunes. Then I noticed the display in iTunes saying “removing Netshare app”. For a moment I just thought that “maybe it was replacing it with a new version or update.” Nope, it’s gone! Now this is kinda scary on a “big brother” level. Apple seems to have built-in the ability to remove apps from your iPhone without your consent (maybe you actually give consent in the iTunes license agreement that you accept, but um I haven’t read that thing – have you?).

Of course I expect a full credit for the purchase price (plus tax). After all, I didn’t do anything wrong. I bought the app from the App store fair and square. I’ve already reported it via the “Report a Problem” link through the account area of iTunes. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

Update – Email I received from the iTunes App Store:

Dear Terry,

I’m sorry to hear that the item you purchased did not download properly. Unfortunately, the availability of this item has changed since the time of your purchase, so I’m not able to help you download it.

Please accept my sincere apologies for any frustration this experience has caused you. I have reversed the charge for this purchase. You will see a credit of $10.59, which includes any estimated applicable taxes, in three to five business days. If you used store credit to make the purchase, the credit will appear in your iTunes Store account.

Sincerely,

Kate
iTunes Store Customer Support

Update #2

I’ve received a lot of comments from people that say, “well it’s still on my iPhone” and I say to you – GREAT! I’ve been thinking about the sequence of events and my guess is that I just suffered from bad timing. When I purchased the app directly on my iPhone last Saturday, it was obviously still on the App store. When I did my first sync after purchasing it (which was the next day on Sunday), my guess is that iTunes removed it because it was no longer on the App store and therefore figured it must have been a hack of some kind or other illegal app. Maybe that’s a feature built-in to iTunes to keep people from circumventing the App store and installing their own apps. In all the comments I’ve received, all of you say that it’s still on your computer in the Applications area of iTunes and that’s my point. It was either there because you bought the app using your computer OR it was put there because you sync’d your computer before it was removed from the App store. Again, I get it! You still have the app which is great. If I had sync’d my iPhone on Saturday, I’d probably still have it too. I have received my credit and all is good. If the app returns to the store, I’ll buy it again. In the meantime no worries.

Update #3

Check out this interesting find over at MacNN on how Apple may have built-in the ability to kill apps remotely. Again, I’m not suggesting that this was the case with me (more likely an issue of bad timing in my case), but curious nonetheless.

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