Dear Apple: Can the iPhone App Store Have a Community Developer Manager Too?

Palm rejected NaNplayer from their App Catalog. That's the first time that's happened for their new webOS platform, but it's something those who follow the iTunes App Store have seen happen with much more frequency.

Now, to be fair, the iTunes App Store currently sports 75,000 apps, and according to Apple's response to the FCC, handles 8,500 submissions a week. We're not sure the App Catalog has cracked 100 yet, so the comparison is apples to orchards at this point. We'd expect Apple to have flagged 1000x the apps Palm had. What makes for a clean break in the two case models, however, is how Palm handled the situation.

Chuq Von Rospach, developer community manager at Palm, jumped on the PreCentral.net forums and... communicated. Quickly, cleanly, and with an admirable degree of transparency.

Now, on the iPhone side we've seen Senior Marketing VP Phil Schiller fire off an email or two to high-profile blogs addressing their concerns about the App Store, and the aforementioned FCC response, but an actual, engaged individual whose sole focus is to work with the developer community, provide support, assuage concerns, and be a pseudo-public symbol of this intent to do better? And who says Palm is okay -- nay, happy -- for the app to continue life as homebrew (their version of jailbreak)

Can we have one?

Chuq, like Palm CEO Jon Rubinstien (slated to be the first guest on the new Engadget Show) and many Palm engineers and PR folks, used to work for Apple. Perhaps Palm is giving them a break from Apple's culture of secrecy and they're taking a liking too it. Perhaps Apple can give some current employees a break from that secrecy as well.

Right now disenchanted iPhone users are trying out Palm, Android, and even Nokia devices and not finding them up to Apple's usability and polish snuff, but that won't last long. Apple needs to get their App Store community perception problems fixed as fast or faster even. Better still, get developer satisfaction levels up to customer satisfaction levels.

Sure these aren't on the general consumer radar at all. Indeed, the amount of people given Apple's 50 million install base is almost statistically irrelevant. But as we've said before, these are the people who tend to influence others, and while the actual App Store problems are likely still going to take a while to crack, the perception problem is one far more easily -- if uncomfortably for Apple -- handled.

And it likely doesn't even need an open letter from Steve Jobs to do it.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Dear Apple: Can the iPhone App Store Have a Community Developer Manager Too?

6 Comments

Then again Palm's stock is on the decline, sales are below expectation and the Pixie launch was widly criticized. So, who know how much longer this charm offensive will last considering that the company is under a great deal of pressure from Apple, RIM and now Google. Anyone else see them a distant 4th or 5th after seeing recent releases from Nokia and Motorola?

Palm is in the first 6 months of a new phone. Its sort of a make or break item for them.
Even if born of desperation (and its not that desperate over at Palm, their main business is licensing chipsets), this is a welcome change not seen much these from corporate types.
The exceptions being Open Source companies like Novell, Canonical and Red Hat, (and surprisingly, even Microsoft product developers from certain areas). Even then, you have to go to their boards and post, they don't come to yours. Kudos to PreCentral!
One would hope he was well received, and someone was there from PreCentral to keep the 15 year olds in check to keep it from becoming a b*tch-fest.
Go to Apple's board and ask any pointed questions and you get smacked-down in short order. (Mostly by the fanboys).
The approach is refreshing, and I hope it continues.

reptile ,
who cares about palms stock or pre sales the fact is palm is doing this right and apple isnt. i hate wen people bring up other stuff when were talkin about something totally different.

If Apple will not bother to field questions at a conference where developers pay $1300 each specifically for access to Apple personnel ( http://tinyurl.com/mq9qkr ), they are not about to create a Community Developer Manager.

It would be great to see other companies step up and force Apple to bend to the will of the people. The competition and capitalism usually expands the capabilities of technology. In the meantime I will keep providing high quality iphone cases to the masses! Thanks for the great article!