iTether for iOS: Get it while you can (update: it's gone)

A tethering app mysteriously appeared on the App Store overnight in direct violation of Apple's anti-tethering policy. iTether was promptly pulled around 9am Pacific, after Cupertino had its coffee.

iTether slips into the App Store. Get it while you can!
ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and James Kendrick have already noted that an iPhone tethering app mysteriously showed up in the App Store yesterday, somehow slipping by Apple's night watchman.

iTether ($14.99, App Store) works as advertised allowing you to share your iPhone data plan with your computer (via USB only) without having to pay a carrier $20 per month for the privilege.

How they pulled it off remains a mystery (is the app review team taking vacation early?). When asked, the developer Tweeted that iTether was approved because it "played by the rules."

One thing's for sure: if you want iOS tethering -- without jailbreaking, mind you -- you should pull the trigger on iTether now. I'm betting that this link stops working by 5pm ET today -- or sooner. [update: it was pulled at 12 noon ET]

iTether was the most popular Paid App in the U.S. App Store before it got yanked. Here's a screenshot from 7am PT, when it was perched at #2 and climbing.

iTether is the #2 paid app in the U.S. But for how long?

Update: I hope that you got it while you could. As expected, Apple summarily pulled iTether from the App Store just before 12:00 noon ET (or around 9:00am PT) as Cupertino was coming online. Attempting to download it now throws a generic "not found" error on the App Store:

I wonder if Apple will use its kill switch to nuke it from people's devices? The other potential gotcha here is that Apple could easily disable iTether in the forthcoming iOS 5.1 update.

Update2: The developer has posted the following statement regarding its app being pulled:

Around 12PM EST, Apple called our head office to let us know they were going to go ahead and pull our app iTether from the App Store. They stated it was because the app itself burdens the carrier network, however they offered us no way to remedy the solution… We were very clear when listing the app what the primary function was and they even followed up with several questions and requested a video demo then they approved the application.

We strongly disagree that it burdens a carrier’s network, as from our own data history on more than 500,000 users we know the average user consumes less than 200 MBs of data per month on Tether. In comparison, one TV show streamed from Netflix, an approved Apple App, could easily be in the 300-400 MBs range. Sure, there are some users that will consume way more than the average however that’s the case with any of these types of products.

Our team is very disappointed in Apple’s decision; as we strongly believe we help carriers better monetize their data stream by pushing customers into new data tiers further increasing their bottom-line. It is very anti-competitive to not allow any Tethering application to enter into this space to innovate. Our team has created a lot of innovative solutions for the BlackBerry product, which we were hoping to port over to the iPhone like end-to-end encryption, compression, website filtering and port filtering.

According to Apple, users who purchase iTether before it was pulled will continue to be able to use the product.

Our team is evaluating all of our options… Stay tuned.

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