The New York Times had a huge, gushing, front-page-of-the-business-section story this weekend about the iPhone App Store titled Apple's Game Changer, Downloading Now.
Now the App Store, with over 100,000 apps and 2 billion downloads is a runaway success, no doubt about it, but given the continued problems with developer relations and capricious approval processes, seeing Apple Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller, and VP of iTunes Eddy Cue, attack public relations via the New York Times, and not help restore faith the developers via a come-to-jesus-phone open and honest airing of grievances and non-opaque plans for improvement just comes off as... awkward (and perhaps a tad insulting). And the New York Times -- really? If you don't have the guts to go for the story and ask the tough questions of Apple, who's left?
Anyway, here's what we did get from the Apple brass:
There's a 24" (20 LED screen) display in the lobby of 1 Infinite Loop displaying 20,000 top-selling app icons, and each time one is bought, its icon jiggles and ripples the adjacent icons. Yeah, that's pretty cool.
First up, Schiller says the review process is a necessary evil to ensure customers trust that apps won't crash their iPhones, steal their data, or contain illegal content, and that most apps just sail through the process. They received 10,000 apps a week.
“I absolutely think this is the future of great software development and distribution. The idea that anyone, all the way from an individual to a large company, can create software that is innovative and be carried around in a customer’s pocket is just exploding. It’s a breakthrough, and that is the future, and every software developer sees it.”
“I think, by and large, we do a very good job there. Sometimes we make a judgment call both ways, that people give us feedback on, either rejecting something that perhaps on second consideration shouldn’t be, or accepting something that on second consideration shouldn’t be.”
“We care deeply about the feedback, both good and bad,” he says. “While there are some complaints, they are just a small fraction of what happens in the process.”
“Our goal is very simple: We want to have the best platform for applications that there has ever been on any product. We know we’re not perfect, but we know we’re better than anything else that has been and we want to keep improving it.”
Apple is typically considered to be a perfectionist when it comes to aesthetic and experience, however, so a "good enough" argument is hard to process -- that small fraction should be keeping Steve Jobs up at night.
The Times does mention the controversies and offers some developer comments about apps almost a year in limbo, and large gaming companies being treated the same as hobbyists. They also cover the jailbreak alternative. When it comes to Cue, however, we get:
“A rocket ship is even too small of an analogy. We’ve been able to leverage a lot of our iTunes technology for the App Store. But it’s completely different. We’re reviewing all of those apps. We really don’t have to review each and every song.”
Apple told the Times they're "trying" (?) to increase the number of reviewers and streamline the process.
Check out the full article, which also features RIM/BlackBerry, Palm, Microsoft, and Google's take on the App Store and apps in general. And let us know what you think!