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Friday, February 29, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple to serve as regulator for iPhone app distribution

Apple Inc. will have the final say over which third-party iPhone and iPod touch applications are deemed suitable for release, according to a new report, which also confirms several other suspicions previously waged regarding the firm's upcoming software developers kit (SDK) and its associated policies.

Citing people familiar with the Cupertino-based company's plans, iLounge reports that the iPhone maker will "require that all mobile applications be distributed through its iTunes Store, making the Store a necessary hub for those interested in browsing or purchasing iPhone and iPod touch software."

The report further states that Apple will serve as the "gatekeeper" for all third-party applications written using the SDK, "deciding which are and are not worthy of release, and publishing only approved applications to the iTunes Store." It's unclear, however, whether the company will mandate that successive revisions to already approved applications also be validated ahead of release.

One source speaking to the publication said the process is likely to stifle the flow of innovation, as the company's current third-party approval process often results in lengthy and needless delays.

Developers will also be restricted from interacting with the iPhone or iPod touch Dock Connector, dashing hopes that the SDK could pave the way for new breed of useful accessories, such physical keyboard. However, access to the phone, Wi-Fi, and camera functions will reportedly be allowed.

Confirming a several other reports, iLounge added that the version of the SDK to be released at next Thursday's iPhone Software Roadmap media event will consist only of a limited beta, and that Apple will also announce improved iPhone support of the Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes enterprise email platforms in a bid to convince corporate users to adopt the the touch-screen handset despite its untraditional on-screen keyboard and other limitations.