Updated 5:15pm with comment from Return7.
The fourth time was definitely not the charm for the developers behind the CastCatcher streaming radio application for the iPhone.
Apple rejected CastCatcher 1.3 from the App Store on Monday, according to Return7 developer Amro Mousa. The reason? "CastCatcher Internet Radio cannot be posted to the App Store because it is transferring excessive volumes of data over the cellular network, which as outlined in the iPhone SDK Agreement section 3.3.15, is prohibited."
If that's Apple's policy regarding streaming radio applications, Mousa is a little puzzled, because he has already released three versions of CastCatcher with no problems since it was first released to the App Store in September. And there are several other streaming radio applications on the App Store, such as the one developed by CBS subsidiary and CNET corporate sibling Last.fm, that also operate over the cellular network using the same amount of bandwidth as CastCatcher, according to Mousa.
Mousa says he's trying to get an answer out of Apple, and I'll update this post if and when he updates the company blog or responds to an e-mail inquiry. CastCatcher 1.2 is still available on the App Store as of this writing, so perhaps there is something specific to the latest update that triggered the bandwidth concerns, although Amro said in the comments on his blog that he left the bit transfer rates unchanged on the new version.
The CastCatcher incident has to once again bring up questions about how Apple is handling App Store rejections. Earlier this year Apple killed an application called Podcaster that let users download podcasts over-the-air directly to their iPhones without using iTunes--a feature Apple did not offer at the time but reportedly plans to offer with the OS X 2.2 update.
Should we soon expect to see an iPhone version of the streaming radio channels offered on iTunes?
UPDATED 5:15pm - Mousa responded to an e-mail asking for further details, quoted in part below.
At any rate, some of my thoughts on why this might have happened are (purely speculation):
1) Their review process might have been outsourced and some decision tree is being taken too literally
2) An honest mistake
3) They're adding support for streaming audio in iPhone 2.3 or thereabouts
I honestly have no idea why this has happened. There were no changes to the streaming code since 1.2 (really nothing significant outside of metadata parsing since 1.0). Bandwidth used depends entirely on the stream provided by the user (i.e. 128kbps streams require that much bandwidth).
For the record, it's not been a terribly long time since Apple rejected the app -- roughly a week and in the past they've been helpful. Lately, not so much though.
Mousa wanted to point out that he holds no grudge against Apple, but is frustrated that he is unable to deliver the bug fixes and feature upgrades that his users requested.