Apple's Latest App Store Rejection Policy: Because We Said So


Tim Daley let us know via Twitter that his app, What Would Chuck Do?, was rejected by Apple's iTunes App Store for the most terrifying reason imaginable. Because they said so:

Thank you for submitting WWCD - What Would Chuck Do to the App Store. We've reviewed the Application and, consistent with the criteria considered in our approval process, we have chosen not to publish this application. As you know, Apple reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject an application for any reason.


iPhone Developer Program

While as a publisher, this is absolutely within Apple's rights, as a platform that needs to nurture and maintain the support of both its developer and user base, it's suicidal. And what's worse, it's stupid. In this day and age, especially for a company as connected as Apple, poor communication causing bad PR is as astounding as it is inexcusable.

Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue need to pull out whatever flame-thrower they marched the halls of MobileMe with last year and turn them full-throttle on whatever passes for the current App Store rejection policy. If any reviewer even thinks of typing "because we said so" they should immediately be transfered to whatever passes at Apple for Siberia.

It's getting tiring to keep typing this, but developers deserve clear, consistent guidelines, users deserve top notch reviewers to make sure we get the best technical quality in apps, and Apple deserves a happy developers and PR experience that matches the phenomenal success of the App Store.

It's such an easy thing to fix, which makes it all the more stupefying Apple not only hasn't fixed it, but hasn't even reached out to developers to show they understand the frustration level and are working to fix it.

For more examples, see TUAW's recent reports from Christina Warren on MiniPops and Erica Sadu on iLaugh Lite.


Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Apple's Latest App Store Rejection Policy: Because We Said So


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While I can see where this would be massively frustrating for a developer I welcome it as a opportunity for Apple to rid the store of all of the absolute crap that manages to actually get into the store.
You're right though. It IS suicidal on their part to do it. I think a better way to go would be to allow for some sort of third party app depot where idiot apps can be downloaded. Find some interesting ways to get them to conform to standards though. Like not allowing access to certain features etc... I dunno. All I know is that out of all of those apps in the store I would bet that 75% of them are complete crap. 20% are good ideas that were rushed to production full of bugs in order to get it on the market and out there before someone else and the last 5% are the truly useful, well thought out and programmed apps.
My 2 cents. Your flame length may vary. :o)

To add to my previous post..."What would Chuck do?". SERIOUSLY? This would go to that "depot" I mentioned. I really hope he wasn't planning on charging for that. It's idiocy like that that somehow manages to obscure the truly useful stuff.

Seems like Apple not wanting to deal with Chuck Norris' lawyers.
Can't blame them, but tell why.

Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see this rejection as merely "because we said so." Part of Apple's response was:
"We’ve reviewed the Application and, consistent with the criteria considered in our approval process, we have chosen not to publish this application."
Maybe Apple is at fault for not letting developers know what the criteria is...and maybe they are at fault for not having the clearest and most concise wording, but this hardly constitutes, "because we said so."

Insanity. We just received a rejection today as well, at least I could see Apple's argument in our case. This poor guy has no recourse or ability to fix the problem like we do.

Pretty clear that you are using the visage/likeness of a celebrity along with. While we all might think its funny, you are using it to sell something commercially (or for your own benefit). If you called it What Would Bob Do and had a totally different icon it probably would have gone through. They don't owe you as a detailed response because as a developer, this is clearly documented in the app store approval process in terms of what you can and can't do.

Terrifying? That's a little dramatic. It seems that everyone has their own ideas about how Apple should design their phones or run the App Store. At the same time they question how AT&T goes about charging for its services and contracts. It is what it is. Get over it. The business model is successful and people will pay for it. I didn't buy a 3G because I knew something better would come along and it did. Why act shocked? If an app seems stupid or pointless and the Apple employee wasn't feeling it... the design something BETTER or more INNOVATIVE. When you get a successful company of your own you can run it however you want.

It isn't 'fixable' and Apple knows this. Trying to establish formal guidelines would be a waste of time as exceptions would be inevitable - like any rule book. Then the bad press would relate to 'Apple doesn't even follow its own guidelines'. Thousands of developers are content, dozens are not content. Until that balance is reversed (and that is unlikely) Apple will keep the status quo.
Rejection letters are a fact of life in many, many types of businesses. And there is never a factual explanation.

I'd like to take issue, not with this particular rejection, but with the belief that Apple is fully within their right to reject anything without consistent published guidelines as stated by Rene:

While as a publisher, this is absolutely within Apple’s rights

First I don't believe this is technically true, regardless of what the developer's agreement says. Microsoft has already been beaten up on this score and lost in court when they tried to impose use restrictions on MSDN users and beta testers.
In the US, and presumably Canada as well, when you get a business license, you surrender some of you absolute rights in exchange for the right to conduct business in society.
Apple can not kick Whites, Jews, Stinky, Ugly, Deaf, or poor people out of their stores. Yet I could kick any one of these off my lawn. Safeway can not dictate to candy companies that all candy in Safway stores must be packaged in RED. You can not force customers or employees or delivery boys to wear yarmulkes in your Kosher Deli.
Apple, like every other brick and mortar company, has less than total rights to manage their own stores and their web sites and products.
This was explained to my by a friend, (at the time a District Attorney, who is now the Attorney General of a western state).
Apple's phone is a general purpose computer with a phone bolted on. It runs a version of the same OS as their desktop computers and notebooks.
There is no other general purpose computer platform on earth where the manufacturer retains the total and arbitrary right to control ALL software on the device.
IBM and Microsoft don't controls the software you can run on your mainframe or PCs.
But Apple, by refusing to allow third party software onto the machine unless it goes thru iTunes, and then rejecting apps for arbitrary and capricious reasons is treading dangerously close to Illegal Restraint of Trade.
I want to run Software X. Software X Vendor wants to sell me his software. The software works perfectly on my iPhone and causes no damage, and breaks no law.
But Apple says NO. This is a classic example of Illegal Restraint of Trade.
You can not simultenously OPEN the platform and maintain complete control.
I know there will be some stanch Apple Defenders here who will jump up and claim this is an absolute right of Apple because the developers agreed to it when they signed up. Most of them would jump to the other side of the argument if Microsoft were substituted for Apple.
Restraint of trade takes a multitude of forms, ranging from private activity (e.g., contracts between two parties) to government regulation (e.g., licensing requirements or quotas). Common illegal practices include noncompetition clauses, exclusive dealing arrangements, and price discrimination.
It will take only a few developers to get together and pool their resources and hire a lawyer to prove WRONG, those of you who believe Apple is within their rights.
Developers didn't have any choice but to sign these agreements. Its the only way to sell software for this computer.
(Please don't jump up and shout "Cydia" here. Its a not germane to the issue at hand and if Apple catches it on your phone you lose your warranty. Apple claims its a copyright violation to even use it).
Apple can not continue to Gloat at WWDC about their total domination of smartphones and still maintain the fiction that they do not have a monopoly. And monopolies get regulated sooner or later.
So my take on this is, the more egregiously Apple flaunts these App Store rejections the better. Sooner or later a developer will stand up to them. It has become apparent that Apple is not going to learn until some Federal court bitchslaps them into compliance.

Maybe in this case that's just Apple's polite way of saying your app is a piece of **** and so are you for wasting our time.

Just wishful thinking on my part. :o) I'm constantly amazed that people waste time making junk like iFart and similar completely useless apps. What's even more amazing is that there are actually mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging morons out there that buy the trash. It's just more proof that we're doomed as a species. ;)

@Monty: Post #2
I think your percentages are just about right on the money.
I'm amazed at the number of flashlights. Especially since a blank page in Safari serves the same purpose.

Whats really terrifying is the amount of crap and scandoulous apps that get through that amount to little than a con. iDoom, being one of them, the app author, has published loads of apps, all of them absolute crap, and iddon was originally so misleading and ambiguously labelled that you'd have been very surprised to discover it was just sound effects from the games, rather than the games. The description has been changed now, presumably to fend off complaints. But seriously, how can apple even let that stand when made aware of it, let alone in the first place.
40k apps in the app store, yeah thats amazing, but not if 35k of them are cons.

This would be pretty clear cut if the app would have been called "What Would Steve Do"! Apple should have been clearer in their explanation, but an app that capitalizes on someone else's identity has no place. Changing the name would be the obvious solution - nothing more.

@icebike While what you say may be true Apple, unlike Microsoft, isn't saying you can't create or use the app. They're saying they will not distribute it FOR you to be used by OTHERS. Not quite the same.

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