Apple Changes Stance, Approves Bobble Rep iPhone App

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The Bobble Rep - 111th Congress Edition iPhone application that Apple rejected for allegedly ridiculing public figures landed on the App Store on Saturday when the Mac and iPhone maker reversed its stance and decided the app was fine after all.

The app listed the name, political party affiliation and contact information for every member of the U.S. Congress, and also included a caricature drawing for each member of Congress drawn by MAD Magazine artist Tom Richmond. The caricature heads "bobble" when you flick them with your finger or shake your iPhone.

Apple initially refused to approve the application because of what its app review team saw as ridiculing public figures. The rejection led to extensive media coverage, and ultimately Apple's new decision to allow the application in the App Store.

"You have to wonder how much of the decision was based on the press covered and image hit Apple had taken, and how much of it was simply that some overworked approval person rubber stamped it as a reject," Mr. Richmond said on his blog. "My less cynical side is hoping for the latter, but I am pretty sure any reconsideration at all was facilitated by the many responses and support of people on the internet who were dumbstruck that such an innocent and innoculous app would be determined 'defamatory' to the members of congress we decpcited."

Bobble Rep - 111th Congress Edition is priced at US$0.99 and really is available for download at Apple's iTunes-based App Store.

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Comments

Soledad

The approval process is good, both for the developer and the consumer. Read the SDK documentation and you’ll see they are pushing for higher quality apps. I do think Apple is slowly, too slowly, improving their process, and am optimistic as a developer.

However, I wish they would change the fundamentals a bit more to make it more developer friendly and encourage better testing, and more creativity

Better testing : to get you app tested, developers need to secure UDIDs from beta testers. This is very difficult, and as a results skews your testers to the more techy crowd. You can use apps to get UDID off of phones (Ad Hoc Helper, Nextive), but it’s still too difficult/expensive. If Apple made it easier, you’d get more apps tested by their target demographic, get more feedback, and the app would be less buggy in the first version that goes submitted. That would help get rid of the silly errors that clog the Apple review process. How about a simple, beta-code generator that you email to say, where anyone receiving it can test your app? Apple could impose the same 100-testers per year limit as they do now.

More creativity needs to be at the focus of Apple app store. With the push to getting bigger brands involved, I worry about the small developer who has a great idea but doesn’t have the $$ to stay in the game. If Apple doesn’t help these developers market their app, it’s a total loss, as marketing amidst 100k apps is difficult and expensive. My recommendation is that Apple waive its 30% revenue share UNTIL the app has generated $10k in total revenue. That way Apple has the incentive to promote/find ways to get users to find the new apps—if they don’t then Apple doesn’t make any money until the developer has made some. May not cover the app developer’s time spent, but at least you aren’t robbing precious dollars, while not providing any help. If Apple helps with marketing/discovery, then the 30% is worth it. Let’s align the incentives here.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I don’t know how many developers it took to create 100K iPhone apps. Let’s say it’s 33K, just for argument. Toss out the 100 or so disenfranchised nutbags like that guy who wrote the Facebook app, because his app was nowhere near the low quality of the Facebook app for Blackberry or Droid or other platforms. Guys like him are just bitter because they are too good.

So we’ve got about 33K developers, most of whom are small no-names (long tail) and don’t make much money on their apps. Each of them hopes that Apple will improve its store to give them the special exposure they think they deserve. There is a name for this. It’s Stockholm Syndrome. @Soledad, I am sure your app is amazing. If you plug it, I’ll happily buy it “just because”. But you’re chasing unicorns if you think Apple will ever align its App Store interest with yours.

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