10 Reasons Why Apple's App Store Policies Make No Sense

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-02-23 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Apple's decision to remove over 5,000 applications because of their inclusion of "objectionable material" has caught the ire of several critics. But it's more of the same for the hardware company. Here is why Apple's App Store policies don't make any sense.

Last week, an iPhone developer told social-networking blog TechCrunch that their application was taken down from Apple's App Store because it contained "objectionable material." Since then, a firestorm has erupted over Apple's handling of its App Store approval process. Of course, this isn't the first time.

The company has been forced to deal with criticism since the store's inception over how it approves or rejects different applications. In several cases, those watching the approval process were left scratching their heads.

For its part, Apple said that it has been receiving complaints over some of the applications in the store and it felt that it had a responsibility to ensure that the fewest number of people are being offended at any time.

Admittedly, it's a tough balance. And Apple's position on not wanting to offend others makes some sense. But what doesn't make sense is exactly how its App Store works. What constitutes an "objectionable" app? What sorts of apps are more likely to be accepted than others? We might think we know the answer, but as the past week has shown, we probably don't.

So here are 10 reasons why Apple's App Store policies just don't make sense.

1. It's fine and then it isn't

Apple is notorious for allowing an application into its store, only to inform the developer at some point in the future that, as it turns out, the app should never have been in the store, after all. Apple's decision to remove sexual content from its App Store is not an isolated incident. It has been allowing applications in and removing them at a later time since the launch of its marketplace. And chances are, it won't stop that practice anytime soon.

2. It's not fine, then it is

At the same time, Apple has, on several occasions, rejected an application only to allow it in after feeling a significant amount of public and private pressure. One of the most notable rejections was a Nine Inch Nails app. Originally, Apple decided to reject it due to objectionable content that might have been accessed from within the app. After the band's front man, Trent Reznor, made it known that he was more than a little upset over the rejection, Apple backtracked and allowed it in.

3. Why the double standard?

One of the main issues many critics have with Apple's most recent removal of over 5,000 applications from its store is that it didn't remove "big-name" brands, like Sports Illustrated's swimsuit app. Apple contends that it allows those apps to stay in its store because they come from well-known companies. But should size and notoriety really play a role in the approval of applications in Apple's store?

4. Enough with secrecy

A common complaint with Apple's App Store is that the company is far too secretive over what it will allow and what it will reject. Apple can't be expected to outline every kind of application it will allow, but when an app is denied access, the company needs to do more to explain to developers why their applications were rejected. Enough secrecy, Apple.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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