Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

AppGratis Apple AppStore Appeal

In a heartfelt appeal to Apple from AppGratis founder Simon Dawlat we gain insight into the ridiculous situation around Apple’s appstore review proces.

Seemingly on a whim Apple decided to toss AppGratis’ app from the appstore. A new reviewer is apparently all it takes to endanger the jobs of 45 employees and to kill a product that clearly filled a niche, both on the consumers side (with millions of happy users downloading the application) and on the side of the apps that are being promoted.

For a very long time it looked as though AppGratis got a pass from Apple. Only a scant few days ago Apple approved their new iPad application and - one has to agree with Dawlat here - if it was ‘ok’ a few days ago, it should be ok today.

If a new application gets submitted to the review process then Apple has every right to reject that application or to ask the developer to make changes. But once accepted into the AppStore, once established and approved (especially for 4+ years, in the case of AppGratis!) the barrier for a subsequent rejection should be MUCH higher than a simple change of personel. All it takes is for one Apple AppStore reviewer to have a bad hairday and your company could be in trouble and you too could be out of a job.

And even if your product passes under the rules of today Apple can - and does - introduce rules that specifically target certain segments of their ecosystem for annihilation with subsequent selective enforcement of those rules.

Apple handled this in a very unprofessional manner, the CEO of a multi-national corporation not being available instantly (the man was on an airplane) can’t be a reason to yank an app that has been in the AppStore as long as AppGratis has been.

Apple is acting in a tremendously irresponsible manner here. They are risking alienating the developers that made the AppStore into what it is. If Apple wishes to be left with nothing but hobbyist app developers that create a multitude of fart apps then they should definitely make a few more ‘examples’ of successful applications that have carved out a niche in the eco-system. After all, bringing an App to market that has significant back-end logic, that requires the creation of unique content in several languages and that delivers a polished user experience will require a solid team, will require significant cashflow and will likely require that such dedication will be on display over the lifetime of the App. And when new devices are added to the mix they will need to display all of that all over again.

This is not hobbyist territory. By behaving like a schoolyard bully - we do it because we can - and yanking apps willy-nilly developers the world over working for companies in the mobile space are likely reconsidering the choices they have made. Clearly one can not depend on any kind of past approval by Apple to stick.

It’s like asking for a ruling from a judge, then to use that ruling to build a business on and have the judge yank the carpet out from under you a while later saying they simply changed their minds. Apple has a responsibility here and failed to meet it.

If Apps are rejected initially then that’s all fine and good. But once approved a subsequent rejection, especially of a popular App such as AppGratis or any other should require several levels of review and clear and open communication with the company before such an App can be subsequently rejected, especially if nothing on the App side had changed. Apple owes that to its users, the mobile space in general and the employees of mobile companies the world over that are currently developing applications for the Apple eco-system. Without such a raising of the bar Apple not only puts AppGratis at risk, but risks a massive walk-out of developers and investors in mobile companies from the Apple eco system.