I am officially and indefinitely boycotting the iPhone SDK. Our application the Cool O’Meter 3000 was denied live status in the Apple App store. In essence they said that we made an application that was too simple to warrant worthiness to the droves of iPhone and iPod users. The first thing that probably comes to your mind is “Less QQ and more pew pew, you big baby!” But please allow me to explain why this is completely and absolutely dispiriting.
We have determined that this application is of limited utility to the broad iPhone and iPod touch user community, and will not be published to the App Store.
The big issue at hand is the unfair policing of content by Apple’s Dev Program team. It was my understanding that when the iPhone SDK was announced that the only two stipulations for denial were taste and legality. In other words, no pornography or lewd content and nothing that’s illegal. The notion that they can judge content that is neither distasteful or illegal is startling.
My company Pattern Making Co. is a small two man team that survives on the creation and selling of products. We dedicate a certain amount of time to the ideation and development of software and we assume that if we stay within the guidelines then we’re offered passage without quarrel. With each project requiring a certain amount of time and monetary dedication how am I to make a living without knowing that something is up to the required creative stature? This infraction on the part of the iPhone Dev Program plays a great disservice to the development community. At the end of the day we generate the content that populates the flourishing App Store. I say let the market decide.
The real biter is the way that the matter was treated. I don’t expect special privileges as a developer but I do expect the courtesy of a means of disputing the decision. I sent a reply immediately after receiving the original letter and requested a consultation with a representative. Nothing. What an obscenely vague rejection letter and yet surprisingly so absolute.
Let’s discuss simplicity. There are a number of apps that are more simple if not as simple as ours. To name a few; Coin Toss, iBeer, Weejee Board, Finger Scan, Flashlight. I bring these up not out of jealousy but to question where this imaginary gauge of simplicity starts and ends. Cool O’Meter can be thought of as simple because the interaction is “touch the pad and see how cool you are”. I argue however that from a creative and craft standpoint the application is quite sophisticated. I might go so far as to say that our solution is elegant. The concept is obviously a novelty, that was the intent, but the part that a reviewer can’t see is the social component (ex. Ouija board).
So, why should you care about what I have to say? From day one I’ve been an advocate for development on the iPhone platform. So much so that when there wasn’t an official SDK I helped pioneer some of the earliest native apps. Most notably, I was a part of the original Apollo IM team. If you’ve used Apollo IM 1.0 then you’ve experienced my contributions. Past aside, I have a successful product on the store. I’m just another designer trying to create apps that people enjoy. Pattern Making Co. is one of many poster companies that was born as a result of the iPhone SDK.
The iPhone Developer Program is meant to foster the creative process not get in the way as a cumbersome stop block. It’s not supposed to be a task force entitled to policing what is adequately creative or not. This overstepping of the original agreement between provider and distributor is simply unacceptable. The reasons for our rejection are nebulous at best. As a result we’ve decided to suspend our future development roadmap.
I want to wish luck to all of our friends in the iPhone Development community. Keep on fighting the good fight! This denial was a show-stopper in an otherwise lovely relationship.
UPDATE: Ars Technica Article - Ars gave me the pleasure of contributing some thoughts to a recent article on the iPhone application insanity.