Macro.org, from the developer behind Tumblr and Instapaper, has a post up highlighting the latest App Store controversy -- that all web-embedded apps must be rated 17+ and now don't get Promo Codes -- and comes to this conclusion:
Apple thinks reviews can take 8-30 days and web-capable apps need nudity warnings and the management interface can be buggy as s**t and they don’t need us to be able to reach them and nobody really needs to take any of this very seriously. Because it’s working for them. They’re making a killing taking their 30% commission on the 1.5 billion copies of $0.99 top-25 games that they’ve sold. Who cares if the App Store discourages good developers from putting serious effort into it? Apple doesn’t need to care. And, clearly, they don’t.
The whole post is definitely worth reading, and brings to mind the classic riff -- "any incompetence sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from malice".
Here's the the thing, though: Apple is not only serving developers. They're being served with lawsuits. And their hyper-vigilant legal departments are no doubt saying -- perhaps rightly -- that if someone uses a Twitter client that embeds a WebView and happens to see the f-word or a nipple, they'll sue Apple.
Ridiculous, sure. A poor solution, of course. But it's the kind of rolling triage Apple seems to be doing as the App Store grows beyond even their expectations.
Don't get us wrong, all the problems marco.org mentions are real, frustrating, and need to be fixed yesterday. For Apple to force 17+ Ratings on these apps, and remove Promo Code functionality, is intolerable -- and we wonder why Mobile Safari, Mobile Mail, iPod, etc. aren't forced to pop up the same warning under that logic.
It's entirely Apple's fault, setting themselves up as editors to the App Store, and then not implementing the policies or staff necessary to keep up with the content requiring editorial approval.
But we don't think Apple doesn't care. They surely do, and will no doubt continue to make slow, steady improvements and address developer and user concerns, while at the same time making other clumsy and what look like bone-headed decisions and mistakes. Lots of them.