Apple apparently can disable App Store software remotely on your iPhone 3G. The iPhone calls home and poof the application is nuked.
Needless to say that this has caused a bit of a blog ruckus (Techmeme). MacRumors notes that Apple has come under fire for removing App Store software without notification and the ability to simply deauthorize apps already installed on an iPhone is worrisome. iPhone Atlas points out that Jonathan Zdziarski found Apple's blacklist in a forensic analysis of the iPhone 3G.
Is this something to be outraged about? Yes, it's creepy that iPhone can phone home and deactivate your apps, but the risk-reward is clearly in Apple's favor. Let's recap:
Risk: You deactivate apps and annoy customers. Impact: Minimal. iPhone customers will stick.
Reward: By having this deactivation "feature" Apple garners some enterprise credibility. Yes, it's DRM run amok, but if you’re a company you like a little remote wiping action.
Reward: Apple has some control over security. Let's face it folks. QuickTime and Safari aren't the most secure applications every written. Apple is a big target. And a malicious app disguised as a legit piece of software could iBrick the iPhone army. That's a dangerous scenario for Apple considering the company has had its hiccups (MobileMe anyone?).
Reward: Apple has a reputation to maintain. Apple is a walled garden. You get integrated hardware and software and a great interface. Apple controls everything. That's part of the deal. If blacklisted applications were to diminish the Apple experience with crappy software a lot of the company's secret sauce would be wasted.
Add it up and the reward category wins 3 to 1 over risk. Now Apple could revise its blacklist after complaints, but assuming the company doesn't abuse its privileges the remote nuking capability may not be such a bad idea. As usual though, Apple operates in its own universe. Just imagine if Microsoft had a blacklist of apps and could nuke software remotely.