Apple Responds to App Store Rejections, Google Voice – Phil Schiller Speaks up

Apple’s long predicted App Store Jeorpardy finally became a Nightmare for Apple. This time, Apple’s policies had hit Apple themselves hard where it hurts the most.

Apple had been rejecting Apps without being able to timely justify the reasons and Google Voice App rejections made things worse. We even saw frustration of a developer ending up in shooting iPhone.

After rejections, one Apple executive is trying hard to win customers — and developers — back

Apple’s App Store practices have bordered on schizophrenia, with it frequently accepting applications only to later reject them and rejecting others only to later accept them.  Worse yet, frequently rejections seem to follow no consistent pattern, with some apps being rejected for containing some sort of forbidden content, while others with that same content get accepted.

These inconsistencies have led to customers growing dissatisfied with the iPhone — or in some cases even leaving it.  They have also led to a growing discontent among developers, some of whom have also jumped ship.  And it has even brought down a government investigation concerning Apple’s role in rejecting the Google Voice app.

However, there is one man who hopes to fix the system.  Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller is trying to right the iPhone App Store and is personally taking a hand in trying to win back customers, developers, and placate government investigators.

Mr. Schiller (with occasional help from Phil Shoemaker, Apple’s Director of Application Technology) has been surveying the blogosphere and personally picking up on blogs about unjustly rejected iPhone apps.  He’s then contacting app developers and personally trying to work with them to get the apps approved.

Jonathan Bayme, the CEO of Theory11, was frustrated when his Rising Card application was rejected for being “confusing” to customers (despite the fact that the whole idea of a magic trick is to confuse).  However, a blog posting and dialogue with Mr. Schiller later the app was on its way to being accepted and he had changed his tune.

He describes:

Schiller was unbelievably responsive throughout the whole ordeal. Our first communication from him was late at night on the 11th – with another email sent to us an hour later. He was extremely nice and although not promising anything, he said he would have their team look into the situation ASAP.

To be frank, Chris and I [the creators] were both amazed that this had reached the heights it had at all – given the fact that it is just a fun magic trick. We had spent months creating, polishing, and finishing this thing – and up until then we thought all hope was lost. It’s been quite the rollercoaster.

This morning, we received another email from Schiller advising us that Phil Shoemaker (Director of Application Technology) would be in touch with us soon to discuss our app, and as promised I received a phone call about three hours later from Phil. Shoemaker said that his team was looking into the issue as we spoke, and he was hopeful to see resolution of this by the end of the day.

True to his word – it was in fact approved late this afternoon. In sincerity the whole process was quite the ordeal, but I must say that I respect the hell out of the fact that we received the personal attention that we did. They were responsive, attentive, and truly listened to what we were saying. While one could argue that it took us over a month to get to that point, I would judge this situation based on the lengths they went to to fix the problem – they were incredible.

Mr. Bayme’s story is not an isolated one — many developers are coming to view Mr. Schiller and Mr. Shoemaker as “app saviors”.  The good news for Apple here is that it appears to be trying to change its ways, and to some extent its working.

However, a critical problem still remains.  While Mr. Schiller and Mr. Shoemaker appear to be performing above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to damage control, the illogical rejections continue.  Thus while Apple’s executive leadership seems to be changing its tune, the Apple employees responsible with screening appear to be singing the same old notes.  And until that changes, there will still be headaches in store for developers, customers, and the Apple executives alike.

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