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Apple axes iPhone apps that simply reproduce Web content

Following reports that Apple began rejecting App Store software with "minimum user functionality," the iPhone maker has now set its sights on applications that employ a "cookie cutter" formula.

As detailed by TechCrunch, Apple has recently started cracking down on submissions to the App Store that are just "basic applications." These apps are "little more than RSS feeds or glorified business cards."

"In short, Apple doesn't want people using native applications for things that a basic web app could accomplish," the report said.

The issue has primarily been with iPhone applications built with "templates" that are available from a number of software generating services. Medialets CEO Eric Litman said the change in policy plays into Apple's desire to control the user experience.

"Apple wants iPhone apps to be superior to Web experiences because they are extremely sticky and drive people specifically to buy the iPhone over competing smartphone platforms," Litman said. "Apps that are too simple or largely indistinguishable from the Web, other apps or particularly other apps on other platforms send the message to end users that the iPhone app ecosystem might not be particularly special."

But the report noted that Apple has also worked with developers like Appmakr, which helped to make content from The Atlantic available as an application, to add features like in-app purchases, instant notifications, offline access and more.

It's yet another change in policy for Apple regarding the App Store. Last week, some developers said the company began removing applications the Cupertino, Calif., handset maker felt provided "minimum user functionality," such as one that simply quacked like a duck.

Apple also removed software it felt contained content that was "overtly sexual," resulting in a purge of more than 5,000 applications from the App Store.

In addition, a number of Wi-Fi scanners were also recently removed from the App Store, though they allegedly relied on unpublished APIs within the iPhone OS software development kit, breaking the terms set forth by Apple for developers.