An interesting story posted up on TechDirtsuggests that Apple is abusing the power it wields by having created the iPhone/App Store ecosystem.
The story revolves around Apple's decision to block Google's location-tracking service called Latitude from the iPhone while at the same time trying to patent a similar technology.
Now, the question as to who developed the app first and whether Apple's patent application is valid is up to bureaucracy and possibly the court system to decide, but the way that Apple seems to be leveraging the App Store approval policy to gain the upper hand on competitors is certain to raise a few eyebrows.
I say "seems too be leveraging" because it's hard to know the ins and outs of the story. Google launched Latitude back in February 2009, while Apple's patent application was filed back in June 2008. Also, it's hard to know what level of privilege those approving or denying apps have. Are apps supplied by big hitters such as Google looked at by the same folks that wade through the fart machines and notebook apps, or do they undergo more (or less) scrutiny?
Another issue here is how long can Apple play the "duplicates functionality" card to keep rejecting apps without that becoming a monopoly monkey on the company's back? While some small "at home" developer, or even a small to medium sized dev house might not have the power to mount an assault on Apple, a big hitter such as Google sure does.
Some else to keep an eye on in 2010.