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Old Sep 13, 2008, 05:56 AM   #1
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Apple's App Store Rejection Policies Raise Concerns



When the App Store was first introduced, Apple specified that apps would have to be approved before being allowed into the App Store. The reasoning for this approval process was to weed out applications that were against Apple's terms of service. This was said to include potentially abusive and inappropriate apps. While there have been a few applications that have been rejected on these grounds, there is increasing concern about App Store rejections due to overly vague reasons.

The most recent case is from a developer who created an application called Podcaster. Podcaster is an application which allows you to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch. A video demo of the application can be seen at NextDayOff.com. Podcaster was rejected for inclusion into the App Store.

The developer published the rejection letter which cites duplication of iTunes functionality for the reason for rejection:
Quote:
Apple Rep says: Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.
DaringFireball sums up the concern amongst some developers about this policy:
Quote:
If you only find out at the end of the development process that your app has been rejected — not for a technical problem that you can address but because Apple deems the entire concept to be out of bounds — then who is going to put serious time and talent into an iPhone app?
Developer Fraser Speirs is amongst the developers outraged by this policy and offers suggestions on how Apple should address this. Some of the suggestions include clear exclusion rules, an App Store evangelist, and the ability for developers to get pre-authorization for application ideas.

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Last edited by arn; Sep 13, 2008 at 06:06 AM.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:02 AM   #2
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Seems like a good idea to me?
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:12 AM   #3
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Bummer this is the only thing i miss from the iphone, be able to download podcast on my iphone instead in itunes then sync is worth a lot of money to me!

Apple don't be stupid!!
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:15 AM   #4
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A BIG middle finger to Apple for this!
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:18 AM   #5
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Why should Apple reject an app because it duplicates functionality? The app in the article also does things that iTunes does not. Isn't this the same (actually worse) than the way that Microsoft pushed IE to the detriment of Netscape and other browsers (and the users)?
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:19 AM   #6
Veri
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no surprise

I've advised people to hold off on iPhone development for this very reason, and I recall making some posts here on similar lines; the response was generally "Apple would never do that!" because it would discourage developers, etc. Yet Apple make it quite clear in their licensing agreement that they can terminate your iPhone developer agreement for any reason they please - and, as any fule kno, if the stronger side in an agreement gives itself more power than is reasonable, it will eventually abuse it.

Thinking hypothetically about spending $99 for the "privilege" of writing a useful free app for the mere love of coding then finding it's rejected because it competes with Apple's own offering is enough to discourage me from writing for the platform.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:21 AM   #7
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This is unacceptable behaviour from Apple and another reason why I'll be sticking with S60.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:24 AM   #8
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Why should developers reinvent the wheel?

As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:25 AM   #9
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Perhaps they are working on their own podcast app or more likely service providers just don't want to deal with the bandwidth used by something like this.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:25 AM   #10
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As a paid up iPhone developer I find this news very concerning. How is duplication (and enhancement) of pre exiting phone features a valid reason for exclusion? I don't remember reading anything along these lines in the various agreements that exist between a developer and Apple other than a generic 'Apple can reject your application for any reason'.

Since the App Store is such a essential part of the sales pitch for iPhone and iPod touch (witness the more that 600 games available claims from the 'Let's Rock' presentation) Apple really needs to be careful that they don't scare away the development community from the platform.

Clearly must better definitions of what is and what is not permitted need to be published, the internal reviewers must be working from a set of guidelines, these need to be published externally.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:26 AM   #11
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I wouldn't be surprised if Apple offered to buy 'Podcaster' and include it in iPhone 2.2 or iPhone 3.0.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbirchall View Post
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
Agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehassall View Post
Perhaps they are working on their own podcast app or more likely service providers just don't want to deal with the bandwidth used by something like this.
This makes sense.

Obviously, we don't know the whole story.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:31 AM   #13
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I don't see how this is duplicating functionality. Currently I can't subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts on my iPhone. I would love to have this application.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:36 AM   #14
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Seems pretty draconian since the iTunes app on the phone doesn't do podcast BUT

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehassall View Post
Perhaps they are working on their own podcast app or more likely service providers just don't want to deal with the bandwidth used by something like this.
This could be a valid explanation
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbirchall View Post
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
They are not reinventing the wheel. They are creating competition. If you don't want it, you don't have to install it or buy it. Healthy competition between similar apps is a good thing as it drives improvement and innovation.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:42 AM   #16
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I do a language course (Chinesepod) which in part is distributed through a podcast and already several times I wished there was a capability like Podcaster. I suspect Apple itself is working on this. Buy it or admit it to the App Store, Apple!
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:42 AM   #17
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I can understand why Apple would reject an App like the Podcaster, but it would be really neat to have. This is unfortunate.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:43 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbirchall View Post
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
I appreciate that perhaps this app would not be useful to you, however:

(1) Its functionality doesn't already exist - it provides a way to grab podcasts without sitting near a PC/Mac;

(2) Even if it did entirely duplicate built-in functionality in a different way, that way might be preferred by some users;

(3) Since there's no obligation to use any app on the iPhone store, it doesn't matter if the store includes apps you don't like. If you think a better app review system would be useful, make your million by starting up a 3rd party voluntary review site;

(4) Developers won't necessarily program what you want just because you tell them that they can't write what they want.

[edit] It is in your interest that the app is accepted: scaring developers off will make it less likely that someone develops what you want.

Last edited by Veri; Sep 13, 2008 at 06:59 AM.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:46 AM   #19
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For this app I'm not so sad its not there. If you watch the developers video he seems SOOOO into demoing his exciting program.

Good catch Apple.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:46 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danbirchall View Post
As an iPhone 3G user, I'd much rather have developers creating functionality that doesn't already exist.
Developers should be free to decide what they want to create or not. It should be up to market ( consumers ) not up to apple what is being produced or not. In my opinion apple is more greedy than MS.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:54 AM   #21
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why spend time developing an innovative, exciting app that may be rejected when you can just slap together a Christmas, election, or new years countdown app and charge 99 cents for it?

But wait. Doesn't a countdown to a date duplicate the functionality of iCal or the built in clock/timer?

The app store submission validation process has been pretty arbitrary and inconsistent from day 1.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 06:59 AM   #22
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This guy needs to suck it up and move on.

Authors and screenwriters toil over books and film scripts for years never knowing if they'll even get an agent to read it let alone give the project the green light.

They can't just ring up Random House and say "If I write a book about xxxxx will you publish it?"

It's just not the way the world works.

You put in the time and hope it gets a go. If it doesn't, you move on to the next project.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 07:01 AM   #23
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What I feared is now being realized... Apple are beginning to abuse the very developers they depend on to make a rich software base for the iPhone.

I hope developers take a serious look at the iPhone and in many cases, abandon the platform. Apple will then hopefully rethink its policy and relax them.

So what if there is duplicate functionality - no one is forced to download and use. It creates competition amongst Apple and developers, obviously something that Apple doesn't like.

If this was Microsoft, there would be murder on these forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjcampbell View Post
This guy needs to suck it up and move on.

Authors and screenwriters toil over books and film scripts for years never knowing if they'll even get an agent to read it let alone give the project the green light.

They can't just ring up Random House and say "If I write a book about xxxxx will you publish it?"

It's just not the way the world works.

You put in the time and hope it gets a go. If it doesn't, you move on to the next project.
Its how it works for every other smartphone platform, and indeed, desktop o/s. Why isn't it good enough for Apple + iPhone?

You know, Apple don't always make good decisions, its about time that people realized this and stop acting like sheep.
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 07:03 AM   #24
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This app was free right?
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 07:04 AM   #25
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unacceptable

Damn. I want Podcaster bad

This is unacceptable behaviour from Apple. The vague and unclear rejections must stop. There must be evident rules, much like the ones presented during the announcement of the App store, not hidden rules.

And it's not only just that, but there's severe limitations to the SDK user agreement (e.g. no background apps, sandboxed et cetera) and also the riddiculous terms of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

All this is preventing really useful apps to make it to the iPhone platform, thus encouraging jailbreaking.
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