Verizon iPhone May Have App Troubles

Today TeleNav announced that its TeleNav GPS app for the iPhone will only be released for the Verizon iPhone 4. Wait, what? Is this part of some exclusivity deal? Is Apple really going to allow this? Are AT&T and Verizon customers looking at a future of popular apps only being released on one carrier to sway customers? The theoretical answers raise even more questions.

The TeleNav iPhone app will be released only on the Verizon iPhone (at this time at least), but no, this reportedly is not part of an exclusivity deal. TeleNav is the developer behind a similar GPS app, AT&T Navigator, so TeleNav GPS is just their way of getting the app on the Verizon iPhone. There is a big “but” here, though. TeleNav claims that AT&T Navigator does not work on the Verizon iPhone due to hardware differences, so the reason for the release of TeleNav GPS for the Verizon iPhone is not due to the AT&T branding of the company’s AT&T Navigator

The only known hardware difference between the two versions of the iPhone 4 is that the AT&T iPhone 4 has a GSM radio and the Verizon iPhone 4 has a CDMA radio. Some are reporting that the Verizon iPhone may have a different GPS chipset, but I was not able to verify that. Thus there is something amiss with the company’s response, which claims that there is a hardware difference.

Would Apple allow the two versions of the iPhone 4 to have hardware that is different enough to cause fragmentation in the App Store? I would not believe so. If there are hardware differences that could cause certain apps not to work on both the GSM and CDMA iPhone, then owners of the CDMA Verizon iPhone will be in for a surprise if certain apps do not work.

A big problem here is that TeleNav claims that TeleNav GPS is only for the Verizon iPhone 4 and will not work on the AT&T iPhone 4. Let’s say that that the app could run on the AT&T iPhone 4 even though the hardware is different and TeleNav found a way to only allow the app to work on a Verizon iPhone 4; developers should not have the ability to only release an app on a Verizon or AT&T iPhone 4. This is what will potentially lead to exclusive deals and app fragmentation. Apps that do not work well or look good on every device (or the majority of devices, for that matter) is one of Android’s major faults due to the variety of devices and hardware; therefore the less fragmentation in the iOS App Store, the better.

Due to this news, if you are looking into purchasing an app that utilizes the GPS of your shiny new Verizon iPhone, then I would recommend waiting to hear from others if the particular app is compatible. If Apple was not able to keep the simplicity and elegance that comes with every iPhone 4 being able to run every app developed for the platform, then we could be in for an App Store mess over the next few weeks. Whether there are separate TeleNav apps for each network due to hardware differences or because there is an option to only allow apps to run on a certain iPhone 4 model, this could lead to a dreaded fragmented App Store.

[partially via ZDNet]