MailWrangler Denied: No App Store for Gmail App

Following on the heels of PodcasterGate, another App has been denied entry into Apple's iTunes App Store: Mailwrangler. The reason, according to Apple (as cited by developer Angelo DiNardi, via Daring Fireball):

… Your application duplicates the functionality of the built-in iPhone application Mail without providing sufficient differentiation or added functionality, which will lead to user confusion. …

And:

… There is also no way to edit an account once it has been added. …

The latter is a gimme, and the developer acknowledges it, though feels is a capricious enforcement. The former?

Many developers are still in an uproar over Apple's tight-fisted control of the App Store, and others are distracted by counting the huge heaps of money they're making, and Google's "open" Android Market looms on the horizon, we're left to wonder how this will shake out in the ecosystem.

Some have theorized that Apple rejected Podcaster because iTunes is a revenue stream for Apple, and they don't want any precedence set for bypassing iTunes, even for "free" podcasts. But MobileMail's Gmail functionality doesn't generate any revenue, does it? And all the calculator, weather, etc. App's already duplicate functionality, so what's going on here?

We'll take a look, after the jump...

Since Apple doesn't seem interested in pre-screening Apps before developers invest time and resources in them, these last minute rejections will continue to throw cold water on the iPhone App Store ecosystem. The results?

Some developers will learn to stay as far away from the 1 ton Apple elephant, their money and premiere Apps, as possible, and content themselves with other areas. Others will simply go elsewhere and develop the next generation of miracle apps on Google's platform instead. While a few may keep throwing Apps willy-nilly against Apple's fence, hoping something will stick.

This isn't a computer. We get that. There will never be unfettered access. It's not a lock-box either, however, and by remaining unclear, and worse -- seemingly uncommunicative and uncaring -- Apple will kill the developer community the iPhone Mobile WiFi Platform will need to truly become the Next Great Thing.

In that regard, Apple also needs to trample with extreme care.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

Terry says:

This is why people JB their phone! - :P
I want to create a few apps for the iPhone, but I am not so sure I want to bother now.

Keil Miller says:

I agree with Apple on this one. We do not need a second mail app. Especially one that does not use native GUI. Apple should encourage users to build apps needed by the community, and deny those that it accepted such as "pull my finger" that waste users time. apple tends to let in the apps that are serve no purpose or have 4 different versions of the same app, and deny ones that are legit. This app is not the case though. It does duplicate the functionality of Mail.app.

Chris Vitek says:

In my opinion, games and entertainment will continue to be developed, but this may limit the "utilities" side of development. This seems to be the area that Apple wants to control the most. So it may help the gaming platform aspect, but it will certainly limit people who productivity apps or utility apps - pushing people to other phones for more business use.

mattwlk2 says:

I also agree with apple on this one.

coop says:

I can't believe that anyone agrees with Apple on this. Going along with this would indicate that we don't need more than one type of soap, more than one type of car or tissue paper.
We don't need another mail app? Are you serious? What about choice, what about differences in functionality? What about different strengths and weaknesses that each app has. Some are better than others, some display information in a way that is more pleasing or useful to users with particular needs or wants.
I find this "Apple has already built one, we don't need another" astonishing.
Bow, tug your forlock, and move on, serfs...
coop

cherryhead25 says:

"… Your application duplicates the functionality of the built-in iPhone application Mail without providing sufficient differentiation or added functionality, which will lead to user confusion. …"
The iPhone Mail app is so limited that if this gmail app allowed you to do something as minor as star a message then it would be better than the native mail app.
I disagree with Apple on this one because I think business users would like more options than the built in (and very weak) PIM. I hope they dont deny Pocket Informant's iPhone app. Hell, if PI let's you set better calendar alarms then that would be lightyears ahead of the iPhone's provided calendar app.
And finally, I don't think that a gmail app would cause any "user confusion" at all. Thanks Apple, you know what's best.

GmailUser says:

I may not have a problem with the general approach of denying duplicative apps, though I think it's pretty silly in the case of non-revenue apps. However, the Mail app is woefully adapted to the efficiencies that Google has put into Gmail. I would love an app for the iPhone similar to what I have for Blackberry that gives you threaded conversations. At the very least, Apple can equip its Mail app with a search feature!

GV says:

Sorry, am i reading things correctly... we don't need choice?... are you guys serious?.. Is not 'choice' the main driver behind 'improvement'.. Do you not think Apple took a good mobile phone and thought 'this is a good phone... but would it not be better if it had this and that...' leading to their development of the iPhone! Whether or not an application replicates core functionality, apple should never ban it. Either they should be confident in the quality of their own in-house apps or they should improve them based on competition.
Also, lets not forget that what appears to be pointless to one person, does not have to be so to another person!!
I think apple should allow us to choose what we would like to install on OUR iphones! :)

frog says:

I agree with Apple. The iPhone is sold on the basis of desktop class email, that gmail app is a downgrade and likely to confuse customers.

Josh says:

The iPhone mail.app is a desktop class email app? Are you serious?

corey says:

Mail.app is a joke. As is Apple's Calendar app. Give me Google apps so I don't need to be beholden to MobileRipMeOff or M$Exchange. I don't want to use them over Safari. I want them integrated into the iPhone OS.
This nonsense has me considering ditching my iPhone (I'm within 30 days) and getting the G1.
ps. props to those who have been writing iphone apps and making money from the "one mail app is enough" drones hand over fist.

Catherine says:

This would have been a really useful app.
It really highlights the ridiculousness of apps having to go though Apple's store. Why we can't we buy apps independently, the same way we can buy programs for our computers independently?
Imagine if all our software had to be Windows or Mac approved... shivers
Imagine if Firefox had been banned because it duplicated the functionality of IE or Safari...
Other mobile devices work just fine being able to access independent programs. Maybe the various anti-competitive bodies need to stop focusing on Microsoft and start hassling Apple - if this isn't harmful anti-competitive behaviour, I don't know what is.

Steve says:

You anti-Apple clowns can go back to your WeirdowsMobile if you're unhappy. Apple has never embraced the ugly, confusing, non-user friendliness that you're all apparently accustomed to (talk about brainwashed drones).
That's what separates Apple from the rest.