Monday, September 15, 2008

App Store Policies Foster Criticism, Create Near Revolt

The App Store is "it" for developers. If an application is rejected, the only recourse for a developer is releasing the app as freeware for jailbroken iPhones. As such, a rejection of an application for the App Store would, you think, be thought out in detail and have well-defined rules defining the reasons for such rejections.

On Thursday, the writer of the app Podcaster noted that Apple had rejected his app, because
Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.
While the developer admitted it was true, he also noted that:
Although my app does allow you to listen to podcasts (like iTunes), it also allows you to download them directly to device and that is something Apple does not offer.
So, why the rejection? Apple has been criticized over seemingly strange decisions with regards to choosing apps for the store, sometimes picking useless apps, and sometimes accepting then later rejecting an app. Perhaps it was because of spelling errors in the program, as the developer couldn't spell "rejected" in his post. Photobucket

Seriously though, this decisions implies that Apple doesn't want competition. Non-competitive? You'd think that sort of thing might lead to legal action. At the same time, quite a few in the blogosphere has risen up over this issue, with some saying they would never write another iPhone app again, at least as things stand now.

At the same time, however, Apple's policy seems to be inconsistent. The iPhone comes with many a calendar, a calculator, a clock and a weather program, as well as other built-in apps, many of which are duplicated by apps the company has already approved.

So what's the real problem? Typically, as with firmware upgrades and fixes for its products, Apple is vague about its policies. Clarity, and perhaps a published policy statement would help to reduce the confusion and anger --- or maybe not.

In their March event announcing the App Store, Steve Jobs did say:
So there will be some apps that we're going to say no to, but again we have exactly the same interests as the vast majority of our developers which is to get a ton of apps out there.
That's great. Just tell us exactly the guidelines for why you say "no," when you do.

Watch this clip from March:

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