Apple needs to fix the app approval process, once and for all

I’m a developer. I have one fun app in the app store, iMoo. I’ll have more.

I am also someone who needs to feed my family and pay the mortgage. Read day to day problems.

When one decides to take a risk and develop software, the normal model, say for a Mac or Windows application, goes something like this:

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Find some funding
  3. Spend a lot of time and money developing the product
  4. Spend a lot of time and money creating the marketing (website, etc)
  5. Find a financial system to take payments
  6. Put your software on your site, or press CD-ROMs
  7. Send out press releases
  8. Provide support
  9. Release updates

The Apple iTunes App Store process goes something like this:

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Find some funding
  3. Spend a lot of time and money developing the product
  4. Spend a lot of time and money creating (some of) the marketing (website, etc)
  5. Submit application to Apple. Wait 3 days – Unknown days
  6. Apple says Yes/No.
  7. If Yes, see #9
  8. If no:
    1. Ask Apple Why
    2. Spend more time/money trying to figure out a resolution
    3. If you can’t find one, foreclose on your house
  9. Spend the rest of your marketing money on website, etc
  10. Apple takes payments, pays you 45 days later or so, making interest/etc on your money
  11. Send out press releases
  12. Provide support
  13. Release updates
  14. Wake up to find out Apple has pulled your application from the store

So you can see that in the normal model, developers have to do more work, but their success is left up to them.

In Apple’s world, the developer has to spend all of the time and money upfront, only to find out much later if they’ll even be allowed to make any money.

Even worse is that Apple says ok, you’re good to go, and then later pulls the rug out from under you.

This has happened twice recently. Once with adult apps and now with wi-fi trackers.

In the former case, I am still not sure I’ve heard Apple give a good reason for why they pulled the applications. If Apple didn’t do a good job separating these apps, why does the small developer have to suffer? It is Apple’s job to fix the problem.

In the wi-fi case, Apple seems to be claiming that the applications used private frameworks, which is indeed a no-no. But again, why should the developer suffer?

  1. Apple approved the apps. Apple really should not be able to change it’s mind like this. People spend money, make plans and in this economy, it is just not right to toy around with a company’s product.
  2. If Apple is really serious about private frameworks, then they should simply release a tool that can be used as part of the build process which scans the application and pre-rejects the build. Simple as that. You use something not approved, you will be rejected.

Sure, a developer can work around the tool, but should they do so, say for example copying the private framework, renaming it, putting into the developer’s framework space, etc, then all bets are off. You lose Mr. Crafty Developer.

But if you do something inadvertently wrong (and I am not saying these guys are innocent, but they were approved after all) you’ll know well before you spend a ton of time and money.

Everybody wins. Apple is happier. Developers are happier.

However, that still leaves the arbitrary hand of the great wizard behind the curtain playing with your financial future.

That aspect is what I simply don’t like.

Of course we’re still going to develop for the iPhone because it is a fantastic product with a very large market. That doesn’t mean we should stop telling Apple to make the process better.

Fix the App Store once and for all, Apple.