Steve Jobs proudly boasted that the iTunes App Store receives 15,000 app submissions every week in up to 30 different languages. More than that, Jobs noted that 95% of those submissions are approved within 7 days.
Sounds great, right?
Sure. Unless, of course, you happen to be part of that 5%.
Earlier today, the folks behind AppsFire, an iPhone app dedicated to making iPhone app discoveries and recommendations, voluntarily withdrew the app from iTunes after mounting frustrations with Apple’s consistent inability to communicate why version 2.0 of their app had yet to be approved. So while most other apps have slid right in within a week, the latest version of AppsFire has been sitting on the sidelines for 56 days. Compounding the issue is that Apple even won’t tell them what the hell is going on. So instead of sitting idly by, Appsfire chose to pick up its bags and leave.
In a scathing blogpost from earlier today, Appsfire explained the impetus behind their departure from iTunes.
Dear Apple Inc.
Your app-roval process is full of holes; you have approved Appsfire v1.0 last August and wished you hadn’t because almost no one had any real clue about discoverability issues back then – indeed, we were the very first to address this issue in an app. Now you know what’s at stake, so you’ve locked-down every aspect of the SDK ToS. Which is probably why you wouldn’t write anything to us for 56 days re: Appsfire v2.0, despite our numerous calls, emails, and high level contacts (period during which you had no problem approving similar apps). Was your intent to shut us down by playing the waiting game until the legal team had caught up? The problem remains, in fact we don’t even know what the problem might be since you are not talking to us.
So now, we’re doing you a favor. We’re pulling Appsfire v1.0 so that you don’t have to.
Besides, we have so much content now that this old v1.0 is choking on it; but you won’t let us update it to optimize the user experience
Maybe Apple has legit reason for wanting Appsfire off of iTunes. Maybe it doesn’t. But that’s not the point. The problem here is the complete lack of communication on Apple’s behalf. There’s nothing worse than investing a lot of time, money, and resources into an app only to find out that Apple decide to reject it for violating a purposefully vague portion of the developer TOS. Actually, scratch that. There is something worse. Having your app hang in a virtual purgatory for months on end with no indication from Apple if you should keep coding away or devote resources elsewhere.
In the comments section of their blog post, AppsFire hits the nail on the head with this:
“We don’t think running a walled garden is an evil practice. The only thing wrong is the lack of transparency and communication in our particular case. it is an easy fix. It is called reply button.”