The month of January was when Jake Nelson, a London-based developer was submitting a regular update to his wildly popular iPhone word game to Apple’s App Store for review, providing support for a range of different languages. This was not his first app. However, he wasn’t ready for what was to come the next month of depressing discussions with the Apple App Store reviewers, and fifteen revisions to his code — made mostly at random, before the app was subsequently approved.
Nelson hasn’t been able to pinpoint exactly why the app was rejected in the first place and then later accepted. The appeals mechanism that Apple implemented in the year 2020 in response to the negative press concerning its control over its App Store didn’t do much to help. The income from this game was around $1,000 per month, but that dropped in the months when he was unable to keep customers engaged with the latest updates.
He also considered not selling iOS apps to earn a living. “I felt as if it was an unending, completely opaque process,” the developer admits.
It is not uncommon for app developers to complain about the App Store, which is the main element of the iPhone’s success and has long been the subject of criticism from app makers who believe Apple has a tendency to skew its market too, blocking its own advantage, making it difficult for independent developers to endure, penalizing competitors, and blockading innovative ideas to reach iPhone owners.
Over a dozen app developers who spoke to WIRED said that the app review process hasn’t improved despite the introduction in 2020 by Apple of the appeal mechanism which lead to a phone conversation with an official from the App Store. Apple added the procedure in what appeared to be a moment of remorse, following a conflict with its software maker Basecamp regarding the denial of an email application and a lawsuit brought by Fortnite’s game developer Epic Games alleging Apple’s 30 percent cut on in-app purchases is unjust.