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Taking on the iPhone: 5,000 Sign Petition Protesting App Ban

By Tom Watson on December 13, 2010No Comment

When is an extra click and a “walled garden” software market bad for philanthropy? When it closes off easy access to mobile giving, according to online nonprofit activists. The last week has seen an interesting “flash cause” develop from the nonprofit community regarding Apple, the iconic computer and gadget maker. Here’s the background from Gizmodo: “In August, PayPal added a donation feature that allowed users to make charitable contributions from within the services’s iPhone app. In late October, Apple made them pull the plug with no warning and little explanation.” Other online giving apps have faced significant delay as well, notes Gizmodo, which posits that Apple does not “want to be liable for donation apps that turn out to be fraudulent.”

Cue the nonprofit community. Care2 has a petition up asking users to “tell Apple to be a good corporate citizen and let their customers give on the iPhone.” More than 5,000 people have signed it. Beth Kanter swung into action (as only she can), pointing to an editorial by Jake Shapiro, the CEO of PRX, (the company behind the popular This American Life iPhone and Public Radio Player apps), sating Apple’s foot-dragging pointed to the company’s being “a failure of being a good corporate citizen.”

In case Apple missed the message, Beth declared up front: “I’m Gonna Ditch My iPhone for Android.” And here’s what she told The New York Times:

“When you’re popped out of an app, you then have to go through a whole bunch of clicks to make a donation,” said Beth Kanter, co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit” and chief executive of Zoetica, a consulting firm. “It’s cumbersome and it doesn’t have to be.”

With the iPhone as popular as it is (though Android has gained), shouldn’t the notoriously restrictive “walled garden” of Apple’s software store open up for charitable applications – as long as they work, that is? Of course, developers can always just link outside the app to the mobile web, connecting iPhone users to any charitable website. But there’s a lot to be said for encouraging platform-native giving – especially on the slick and innovative mobile platform that jet-started the whole app craze in the first place.

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