Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SBS blocking of 3rd party apps makes no sense at all

Retiree Lulin Reutens, who takes the bus occasionally and does not have an iPhone, is peeved when she read, in The Straits Times yesterday, SBS Transit's reason for blocking third party apps from accessing information from its IRIS system.

"It makes no sense at all," she says.

In The Straits Times' report, SBS corp comm's Tammy Tan says the move is "to prevent unauthorised use of proprietary information" and that using the information without approval "could result in wrong information released to end users".

In an email to boo-n-bouquet today, Lulin counters: "Commuters will stop using those apps that give incorrect schedules and the reliable ones will gain popularity. This can only be a good thing; why should that be of concern to SBS?

"Anyway, isn't SBS's main job to get as many people to ride their buses as possible? And wouldn't allowing maximum access to their precious IRIS information help to do this?

"And most importantly, wouldn't that be of great service to their customers? Having the information in one's palm would be many times more convenient than the current situation. Apps developers who have asked for permission have been rejected. So what does SBS want?

"I can just hear SBS's collective minds ticking: How dare anyone make money (through ads) from information that SBS generates! Why not make the money ourselves and prevent others from gaining? Let's stop them, although our version is limited only to iPhone users and other versions won't be ready for months. What's the hurry? After all, commuters have managed without accurate schedules for years.

"What money SBS could make from ads in their own apps would be small change compared to the zillions the company makes from commuters. But it would be a great boost to the apps developers."

What Lulin says makes a lot of sense. We can only hope that SBS Transit will come to its senses.

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