Rejection of “Ca-Ching” app highlights Apple’s inconsistent app store guidelines

Fri, Nov 27, 2009


Last Christmas, the iPhone application iFart made headlines when we reported that it earned over $40,000 in just 2 days.  The success of iFart highlighted the potential to earn money on the app store, though it also gave more ammunition to app store critics who claimed that the majority of apps on iTunes were crap.

iFart was developed by Joel Comm, whose site was eventually bought by Yahoo! and repackaged and served as the basis for Yahoo! Games.  Still, that pedigree isn’t enough to guarantee that Joe Comm’s iPhone apps can skate into the iTunes App Store unvetted.

This past week, Joel Comm submitted a “ca-ching” app to Apple only to have it rejected for lacking utility.  The app, in its entirety, consists of a button with a dollar sign on it, and when pressed, it plays a “ca-ching” sound effect.  Below, you can see Joel Comm pleading with Steve Jobs to let his app in, and in doing so, he highlights a number of other low-level utility apps that were accepted into the app store.

First off, Comm seems like a nice guy, but advertising your adulation for all things Apple will do nothing to advance your position.  Of all people, Steve Jobs seems like the last guy who you could sway with compliments and well-wishes.  To wit, last week the CEO of iPodRip wrote an impassioned letter to Jobs asking for help regarding a request from Apple Legal that it needed to change the name of its app for infringing on Apple’s ‘iPod’ trademark.  Steve Jobs curtly responded with a one line email that said, “Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.”

Regardless of whether or not you agree with Apple’s rejection of the “ca-ching” app, Comm’s plea highlights a larger problem developers are having with the iTunes App Store, namely Apple’s inconsistent application of app store guidelines.  As shown above, a number of apps just like “ca-ching” are already available in iTunes, and there’s no logical explanation as to why those apps made it in and Comm’s didn’t.  Developers are already wary of Apple’s app store rejection process, but if they can’t even rely on already accepted apps as a barometer for what is acceptable and what isn’t, then that’s just one more reason for developers to be apprehensive about coding for the iPhone.

To be fair, Comm’s app seems pretty lame, and maybe Apple feels that it already has enough low utility apps in the iTunes App Store, and perhaps, going forward, Apple will be looking at submitted apps with a more discerning eye.  But who’s to say?  Apple’s app store policies are anything but transparent, and Apple’s latest rejection of Joel Comm’s app serves to highlight Apple’s struggle to strike a balance between keeping crapware out of the store and letting low utility, yet perhaps fun, apps have their place.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Brian Says:

    Ugh. Worthless trash. You asked “who’s to say?” I think the answer is obvious: Apple. It even says so in Apple’s SDK agreement. There is no need for marginal-utility apps in the App store—that’s what we have the Internet and Safari for. I say, let’s get on with taking this to a more serious level.

    I’m an app developer. I understand what I agreed to when I agreed to develop apps, and I understand the app approval process. My apps and app updates are regularly approved in a timely manner. There’s nothing to be afraid of, here—inconsistency only arises from deliberately pushing the limits of what you agreed to.

    What I don’t need is more approval loopholes for crapware developers, or more public crybaby tactics by fart developers. What I really need in order to be more successful, is fewer bottom-feeders like Comm involved in app development, polluting the app store with apps of marginal utility and questionable quality, with their sense of entitlement, in the hope of another 15 minutes of fame or another fast buck. Time to grow up and actually develop software for a living.

    Not only should Comm’s latest app have been rejected, I think his subsequent behavior is grounds for permanently banning him from app development. And his specious arguments and kissing-up are obvious acts of desperation, perhaps to try to avoid that outcome. If I were Apple, I would respond with ‘you know, he’s right about those other apps’ and invest some time to retroactively reject many, many more apps, and ban any other developers who deliberately seek to bend the rules. I’m not afraid, because I know my apps are safe.

    Frankly I’m sick of this whole “inconsistent approval” debate, and developers like Comm who seem to think they are being the heroes. They’re not; in fact, they are the root of the problem—they need to be called out and hauled away. Time to clean house.

  2. MrBungleBear Says:

    Dude! It’s just a bit of fun! Sheesh!!

    Personally, I think the ker-ching or cha-ching buttons are fun. I also can see where having it on your phone would be amusing. If you can’t, then you need to take a break,



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