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 ClasicGames.com 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.