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.