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Apple's App Store Rejection Policies Raise Concerns

When the App Store was first introduced, Apple specified that apps would have to be approved before being allowed into the App Store. The reasoning for this approval process was to weed out applications that were against Apple's terms of service. This was said to include potentially abusive and inappropriate apps. While there have been a few applications that have been rejected on these grounds, there is increasing concern about App Store rejections due to overly vague reasons.

The most recent case is from a developer who created an application called Podcaster. Podcaster is an application which allows you to subscribe, manage, stream and download podcasts directly to your iPhone and iPod Touch. A video demo of the application can be seen at NextDayOff.com. Podcaster was rejected for inclusion into the App Store.

The developer published the rejection letter which cites duplication of iTunes functionality for the reason for rejection:

Apple Rep says: Since Podcaster assists in the distribution of podcasts, it duplicates the functionality of the Podcast section of iTunes.

DaringFireball sums up the concern amongst some developers about this policy:

If you only find out at the end of the development process that your app has been rejected not for a technical problem that you can address but because Apple deems the entire concept to be out of bounds then who is going to put serious time and talent into an iPhone app?

Developer Fraser Speirs is amongst the developers outraged by this policy and offers suggestions on how Apple should address this. Some of the suggestions include clear exclusion rules, an App Store evangelist, and the ability for developers to get pre-authorization for application ideas.

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