Phil Schiller Responds To Another App Store Concern.

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After Daring Fireball took Apple to task for what appeared to be the censoring of a dictionary in the Ninjawords app, Jon Gruber got a response from none other than Phil Schiller himself. As someone concerned about the app approval process in general (and not just this latest issue), I took Mr. Schiller’s response as a very good sign.

Meanwhile, another prominent member of the Mac community, Steven Frank, had published his reasons for boycotting Apple’s iPhone that were triggered by the rejection of the Google Voice app. I disagreed with his decision to abandon the iPhone for this, but I did feel that Frank was sincere in his beliefs and just trying to follow them.

Perhaps Apple thought that way as well, Phil Schiller responded to him, too:

I haven’t sought Phil’s explicit permission to republish the letter, so I won’t do so here. But to summarize, he said: “we’re listening to your feedback”. Not all of my suggested solutions were viable, he said, but they were taking it all in as they continue to evolve the app store.

As with the response to Gruber, I take this as a very good sign. Frank believes so as well, but it leaves him in a bit of a quandary:

Technically, nothing specific has actually visibly changed in the last few days. I said I wouldn’t go back until I could see actual demonstrable progress being made…

So, what do I do now, dear readers? Stick pedantically to my guns? Or take this new information at face value?

As a “dear reader,” here’s my $.02:

  • A long-time, key member of the Apple executive team personally responded to you, and is not likely to do so unless he knows changes are coming.
  • That same executive has said as much in two different places within the last week.
  • It’s not uncommon for Apple to recognize the issues that are heartfelt by their user base and act on them. Recent example are bringing FireWire back to the 13 inch MacBook, and they’ve brought the matte screen option back as well. Further, they’ve reconsidered and approved numerous previously rejected apps.
  • I think Google Voice is coming to the iPhone anyway, likely as a web app, and not unexpectedly.

Obviously, I think Frank should end the boycott, although I understand it’s a personal decision. Whichever way he goes, what I see is Apple reaching out with communication which makes me think that, while they’ll need time, they’re listening and, more importantly, will be doing something about it.

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3 thoughts on “Phil Schiller Responds To Another App Store Concern.

  1. Louis,

    I agree. There’s a world of difference, legally, from a “problem” app available elsewhere as opposed to Apple’s own store. They have an obligation to protect themselves from copyright, offensive, IP rip-off, contractual, and other obligations.

    People seem to think other app stores, like Google’s Open Market or Microsoft’s new offering, will be free of the kind of alleged “tyranny” Apple is using. That’s nonsense. Google and Microsoft will have the same obligations as Apple does, and will act accordingly. Goggle has already killed a tethering app from its store.

    The only thing the other stores will be free of is the kind of scrutiny Apple gets. For example, no one seemed to care (or notice) that Google killed a tethering app.

  2. I think that Apple is trying to come up with acceptable standards, but this is not easy. The Apps store is a year old and has had enormous growth which makes it hard to control. “But, why should the App store be controlled, at all,” Apple’s critic say.

    Many of those critics think that Apple is a acting arbitrary, but this seems unlikely. Apple is running the App store like it is a Flea Market. There are a host of legal constraints on Apple’s leadership.

    Moreover, Apple is policing the quality of the Applications to keep up its brand name. Fly-by-night developers want to create junky apps which rip off the customers. This, if allowed, will rebound on the Apple brand. Hence, it is Apple’s responsibility to prevent that.

    Where Apple falls down is in not communicating the reasons for an App’s denial. It should post exactly where an application violates Apple’s guidelines. This also includes applications which are resource hogs which run down the battery. If there is a change in the guidelines to react to an unforeseen problem, Apple should explain its reasoning.

    Sometimes, Apple can err on the side of caution or reactively to unexpected events, but as the above letter shows they are not being negligent. Let’s no throw open the gates to the App store and let in the barbarians.

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