Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been a wild success, but the company is looking to address growing concern among developers about its approval process.
In a rare interview about its role as gatekeeper, Philip Schiller, the company's senior VP of worldwide product marketing, said Apple is merely acting like any other retailer that wants to ensure that its store has quality products. While apps that don't make it into the store get a lot of attention, Schiller said the vast majority of programs do get approved. Of the apps that are sent back to developers, 90% are for technical issues and 10% are rejected for inappropriate content. Schiller also said 1% of those sent back fall into grey areas that Apple didn't expect, like an app that assists users in gambling at casinos.
"We've built a store for the most part that people can trust," Schiller told BusinessWeek. "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."
The public statements come as some high-profile developers have been complaining about Apple's role as gatekeeper for the App Store. Joe Hewitt, lead developer of the Facebook for iPhone app, said he would be moving to other projects because of Apple's approval process. Rogue Amoeba also recently grumbled about an ordeal it had trying to update an app, but it was rejected for multiple months because it contained trademarked Apple images in the program.
"My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple's policies," Hewitt said. "I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process."
Apple's competitors are trying to take advantage of this growing uneasiness, as one of Android Market's biggest attractions to content creators is the less stringent approval process. Apple has heard these complaints and has made some slight alterations to its approval process to bring more transparency to the process, but its App Store will likely continue to attract developers because of the iPhone's installed base and the momentum it has in the app space.