Apple's Phil Schiller Defends App Store Reviews

Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, spoke out in defense of the App Store and the application review process the company uses to decide which third-party iPhone and iPod touch apps make the cut. The App Store review process has been a bone of contention for many developers, and in some cases they are giving up on coding for the iPhone.

Apple's App Store is the only place to go for officially approved iPhone and iPod touch Apps. Before an application appears at the store, it goes through a review process that has left some developers frustrated because of delays or seemingly random rejections.

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Mr. Schiller defended the App Store review process. "We've built a store for the most part that people can trust," Mr. Schiller said. "You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you'd expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works."

In most cases, the review process probably does work as expected. With 10,000 apps being submitted each week, however, there are plenty of opportunities for issues to crop up.

One recent case involved the rejection of an update for Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil Speakers Touch app because it accessed Mac hardware images that Apple said were off limits. It took several months to get the bug fix update approved, and in the end Rogue Amoeba decided to walk away from the iPhone market.

"We need to delineate something that might confuse the customer and be an inappropriate use of a trademark from something that's just referring to a product for the sake of compatibility," Mr. Schiller said about the Rogue Amoeba incident. "We're trying to learn and expand the rules to make it fair for everyone."

The App Store review process, according to Mr. Schiller, is in place to make sure that the apps iPhone and iPod touch users download are safe. "There have been applications submitted for approval that will steal personal data, or which are intended to help the user break the law," he said.

Finding the balance between customer and developer needs, however, is proving to be difficult. Apple has been making changes to improve the application approval process, and more are likely on the way. Getting the right balance won't be easy, but hopefully Apple can make that happen without losing too many developers in the process.