Ted Landau posted a quick story today about his experience dealing with the Apple iTunes App Store Application Approval Process. In brief, he wrote a guide to the iPhone which has already been published in print, and his publisher wanted to extend it to an iPhone version. Apple, however, rejected the app twice without giving much of a good reason about why.
Apple doesn’t even have to provide a rationale for its decision. Apple can basically tell you: “We reject your app. We’re not going to tell you why. We’re not going to tell you what, if anything, you can do to revise the app that would change our decision. It doesn’t even matter if another app already in the Store includes the same material that is the basis for our rejection here. And there’s not a thing you can do about it. So get lost.”
As a developer who has published a few titles on the App store, this attitude from Apple is really scary. I believe that for most developers, spending many (usually unpaid, in the case of 1 man shops like mine) hours developing an application is considered an investment. Hopefully future sales will recoup the cost of the development time, and with any luck you’ll at least break even – maybe even make enough extra to take your wife out for a fancy dinner.
But, with this attitude, it is much more difficult to justify the large amount of up-front time that must be invested if once the app is finished Apple just tells you to take a hike.
I understand that there needs to be an application review process to hopefully ensure that the apps submitted are at least stable, but I think that we should let the court of public opinion dictate whether an app is purchased. Apple’s role should be to that of facilitator – they allow the customer access to the applications that developers produce, and provide developers proceeds from the sales of their apps.
Landau summed it up well:
While Apple’s policies may be legal, I believe they are wrong. I don’t see how Apple’s behavior here (or in similar situations with other apps) benefits the user, despite Apple’s claim that this is the ultimate basis for its decisions. Rather, what Apple is doing amounts to corporate censorship, for its own benefit, in what should be a much more open marketplace for apps.
I’ve been a big fan of Apple’s products for years, but in this case their corporate policies, procedures, and apparent agenda are counter-productive to their supposed end-goal of fantastic end-user experience.