Solving for Dash

A week ago Dash was removed from the App Store, and its developer had their account suspended. Yesterday, Apple made a final statement. Following that, the developer also made a statement and posted a recording of a phone call with Apple's developer relations team. Those statements and that recording have been subject to a wide range of interpretations, but ultimately all that matters is this: They do not reconcile. Here's how I summed things up:

Apple firmly believes two accounts, linked together by common credit card, bank account, developer ID login, and bundle ID, committed ongoing review fraud on the App Store and, despite doing everything they could to settle the matter in a way that gave the developer every benefit of the doubt, they were stonewalled until they felt they had no other choice than to release a statement.The developers believes that, despite having set up the second account, he bears no responsibility for how that account was used, never heard from Apple before his primary account was suspended, went public with his frustration, was working on a blog post to get back on the App Store, and was then blindsided by Apple going public with a statement, and so released a second statement — and a recording of a conversation with Worldwide Developer Relations.

You'll be able to hear a deeper discussion on this between Michael Gartenberg, Serenity Caldwell, special guest James Thomson, and myself on the Apple Talk podcast very soon, but here's the consensus: Restore the developer account associated with Dash and put Dash back on the App Store. Leave the linked account banned. Monitor Dash going forward the way any other app has been monitored. And that's it.

Apple holds all the power here, and as such, the company holds every opportunity for grace. It's a company that, from the very top down, sincerely loves developers and doesn't want anyone to be disenfranchised. It sounds like Apple has been willing to go to extraordinary lengths to settle things, but for whatever reason, the company couldn't work it out with the developer.

At this point, though, it's time to forget working it out. Mistakes were clearly made on both sides, and there may be no way for the real truth to ever be known, or for everyone to win. But there's a way to stop anyone else from losing further: Fix it, unilaterally, because you're Apple, and you can.

Update: To clarify, the problem being solved for is ultimately the customers who spent money on Dash and can no longer download it. Even if you want to give the developer zero benefit of the doubt, the customers are very real collateral damage. An alternative solution: Restore Dash in a state where it can no longer be sold or updated but existing customers can keep downloading it for a reasonable period of time.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.