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What's in a name?
For an app... everything is in a name. And although name squatting (the process of registering a name that profits or benefits from another person or business), is nothing new in the digital world, we've seen how "domain name squatters" have made life incredibly difficult for some business owners. The same thing, unfortunately, is now transpiring in the app development world, a situation brought up this weekend by Andrew Lim at Recombu.
"It turns out that squatters have moved into the app store. Theyíre worse than domain name squatters though, because you canít even enter into negotiation with them. You donít know who they are, or where they are. They take advantage of the fact that a developer can pretend to submit an app, but abandon their submission at the last moment, avoiding the need to actually create an application, but keeping hold of the appís name. In limbo. Forever."
Squatting has become very sophisticated in recent years. I know several people who have registered film names and song titles before they became successful (as a result of someone else's hard work, of course) only to turn around and sell them at a ridiculously huge profit. As a business model, domain squatting can work. And it's also "fair" in the sense that there is a marketplace for domain names to be sold or traded.
This isn't true in the app world. As Lim pointed out in his article, good app names could remain "in limbo forever" at the hands of name squatters who "might do something with the name someday."
So there you have it, it seems that the Apple iPhone app store is open to abuse from app name squatters and encourages legitimate developers to squat in fear of losing out. We have sent an email to Apple asking for a comment and are awaiting a reply. We hope this unfair system is changed soon, otherwise iPhone developers will find it difficult to get good names for their apps.