back to article Apple kicks iStuff-sniffer out of App Store

Apple has banned an app that allows fanbois to work out which stores have stocks of the latest iPads and iPhones. In a seemingly self-defeating move, the fruity firm wrote to Apple Tracker developer Mordy Tikotzky to say his app was no longer welcome in Apple world. He immediately removed the app, which collected publicly …

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  1. Khaptain Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Cold Frenzy

    By allowing the consumers to know where devices are available the "frenzy" is reduced to nothing more than a bus ride....

    1. LarsG

      Re: Cold Frenzy

      Aren't they a mean bunch of b*ggers!

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Cold Frenzy

        All part of the trials and tribulations that an Aficionado must endure...

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Cold Frenzy

          iFicionado surely

          1. VinceH Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Cold Frenzy

            Lord Elpuss, you deserve a pint for that word.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cold Frenzy

            Shouldn't that be iFictionado as long as we're trying to be accurate.

    2. Erwin Hofmann

      a shaky bus ride nonetheless ...

      ... what confuses me with this is not that Apple withdraw that App but why they approved it in the first place, since "Applications are subject to approval by Apple, as outlined in the SDK agreement" ... shaky, or what, Apples glorious App approval process (it might just be a political decision, after all) ...

      1. Bob Gender

        Re: a shaky bus ride nonetheless ...

        It's fairly easily explained - it was a website, not an App. I know this can be confusing to the elderly hacks running this place.

        Rule number one: never get your facts from El Reg.

        Frinstance, no iPad Airs exploded recently - twas an iPad 4. But journalism is dead, so whatever gets 'widely reported' gets 'reported' as news.

  2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Knowledge is power

    Hmm... So Apple want the information to be only available from their own web site and not through third parties? Is it conceivable that they consider the information gleaned from tracking who checks iPad Air availability in Junction city, OR both extremely valuable and very confidential?

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Knowledge is power

      "Is it conceivable that they consider the information gleaned from tracking who checks iPad Air availability in Junction city, OR both extremely valuable and very confidential?"

      No.

  3. Tommy Pock

    Handy tip

    We can all ensure that every store has an available stock of iPhones, iPads and iPods by not buying any.

    1. Stretch

      Re: Handy tip

      A cookie for that man

  4. Steve Todd

    So the T&Cs of Apples web site

    Say no scraping or otherwise extracting of the data on it, but these guys saw fit to ignore that and publish it on their own website, without permission and allong with a bunch of ads. Not too surprising they got a snotty letter.

    It's one thing to say that Apple should make it easier to locate a store with stock. It's another entirely to say that they should allow all and sundry to scrape their data.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

      Steve, this is data available on public websites, all they did was aggregate the information...

      It's not hacking, cracking or theft. I honestly can't think of a worse place to display "compartementalised" data than on the WWW....

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

        There are many public websites that don't allow scraping, search robots etc. It's up to the sites owners to define what may or may not be done with the data on a site. People using those sites should respect the owners wishes. What crosses the line for me is that these guys were making money out of Apple's data.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

          @Steve : Yes I agree that they should not be allowed to make money from Apples data.

          @Test Man : I don't understand how "scraping " would change the slighest thing for Apple, Scraping requires nothing more than performing normal requests to a web page, this is not a DOS scenario. It's not like they would have been doing 10000 requests per second. A 100 requests per day maybe...which is derisory at most.

        2. Stretch

          Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

          You can't "own" a fact.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site - @Stretch

            But you can agree only to provide that fact subject to terms and conditions.

            If I went to the Apple website, looked up a fact and told a friend about it then this is within the terms and conditions of use. If you write and automated scraper that extracts those facts then you are breaking the T&Cs.

            1. Khaptain Silver badge

              Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site - @Stretch

              So you can look at their website with your eyes but not through a computer program, even though both of them return the same result ?

              1. Steve Todd

                Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site - @Stretch

                It's not the looking that's the problem under the T&Cs, it's the automated passing on of that information.

        3. Mag07

          Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

          Utilizing other people's publicly displayed data - a concept truly alien to Apple itself....and Google, and Facebook....

      2. Test Man

        Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

        Khaptain - what you don't seem to realise is that "scraping" sites affect said sites' stats, take up valuable data-download bandwidth, cause load-balancing issues and in general is a bit scummy. Apple are well within their rights to ask them to stop - information being on public websites doesn't change that.

      3. Frankee Llonnygog

        Re: So the T&Cs of Apples web site

        Screen scraping and republishing copyrighted information tends to be viewed dimly by people who've spent good money on publishing it.

  5. messele

    That was marginally interesting news...

    ...when every other site reported it last week.

  6. Purlieu

    Apple's responsibility

    Surely it is the responsibility of Apple to prevent scraping of their own website if they don't want it.

    Preventing a third party from doing it does not make their problem go away.

    In fact it highlights it.

    Class.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Apple's responsibility

      You're going to have to explain how you expect companies to prevent screen scraping while still allowing users to view the data (there's always going to be some way of getting the data out). That and "they were asking to be burgled, the door wasn't locked and their stuff wasn't nailed down" isn't regarded as a good excuse in the eyes of the law.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Apple's responsibility

        "You're going to have to explain how you expect companies to prevent screen scraping while still allowing users to view the data (there's always going to be some way of getting the data out). That and "they were asking to be burgled, the door wasn't locked and their stuff wasn't nailed down" isn't regarded as a good excuse in the eyes of the law."

        Maybe they cannot do that, either physically or legally. That does not mean that they can throw around spurious ideas like copyright to try to stop people doing things. (You cannot copyright data, only the way it is displayed, and scrapers specifically *do not* preserve the display.)

        Your analogy of people being burgled is specious, because there is no theft. It's more equivalent to someone parading around a high street dressed conspicuously and then being annoyed that people took photographs of it. You might not like it, but it's a reasonable reaction from some people to your actions.

        If Apple don't want people checking its stock on its website, it doesn't have to put it up, and tell people to phone instead. So-called "Terms of Service" on viewing websites are akin to me trying to put "Terms of Viewing" on my house. Sure, you can't come inside without my permission, but I cannot stop you looking at the public-facing bit.

        1. Steve Todd

          Not copyright

          Terms of use. It's a contract between you and the owners of a website. They offer to provide you with data providing you agree to restrict what you do with it.

          Oh, and you CAN copyright data. A JPEG image is just a block of data, but is eminently copyright-able (and has been upheld as such in a court of law).

          And to use your analogy, what Apple have done is similar to a high street shop not allowing photographs while on the premises. The public are allowed into the shop, they can look around, but the shop is within its rights not to allow certain uses of the information they find within.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Not copyright

            "Oh, and you CAN copyright data. A JPEG image is just a block of data, but is eminently copyright-able (and has been upheld as such in a court of law)."

            Not only that, but some numbers are illegal. But a court would say that a digital movie, which can be construed as a very long number, is different from a database. Information cannot be copyrighted, only the presentation of that information. That gets into murky waters when the 'information' is a million-digit number that encodes a picture, but it is definitely not murky when it's a list of stock.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not copyright

            How have we managed to get to this point.

            Where a company can put up a public facing website with information that anyone can come to see, without agreeing to terms or signing things in blood. And where taking that information, boiling it down, re-configuring it and showing it in a different, wholly useful way, that contains no genuinely copyrightable information can somehow be legally wrong, can result in a threatening letter, can result in a person throwing their work away because its more than its worth for them to stick up for themselves.

            This is a list of public stores and public stock levels of public products buyable by members of the public.

            Astonishing.

            Just think what we won't be allowed to do tomorrow.

  7. 080

    Marginally Interesting?

    The comments are far more interesting than the article

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marginally Interesting?

      I dunno, to me it just appears to be a bunch of idealistic "information wants to be free" arguments interspersed with a few foolishly patient individuals attempting to explain where that viewpoint diverges from reality. fun to read I'll grant you, but not really that informative.

  8. dopefish

    Rogue app taken down - check

    Innovative new "iStock" app released from Apple which let's you check stock levels of Apple kit in Apple stores - pending

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice website you got 'ere ....

    Would Apple's "Notice" work as an anti-NSA text for personal websites, e-mails, Facebook pages ?

    Just askin' innit ?

    It's like that "F**k off Wolf" note I have on my front porch .... y'know, it keeps the wolf from the door ....

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