*** Update: at 3:10pm today, we received a call back from Richard at Apple who now said that Apple will be releasing our 2012 updates!
Richard from “Worldwide Developer Relations” at Apple just called to say that Apple will not be approving the rest of our 2012 releases. Let this serve as a warning to any other businesses that are considering developing iOS Applications, or ones that like us have been successfully doing this in the app store since 2009.
Our first Arbitrary rejection was in 2011
Last year in 2011 we went through the same process where Apple was ready to shut down our business. In the same arbitrary manner Apple approved some of our updated apps, then rejected others telling if we wanted to have them available it would need to be as ebooks in Apple’s new iBookstore. This nearly shut our business down. We filed a dispute with Apple – our Apps are reference sources most popular for their fast and powerful search capability, as well as ability to share/print statutes, etc. These are not novels that a person reads page-by-page like a book. In the end Apple overturned their rejection and approved and published all of our 2011 updates.
One year later, and another arbitrary rejection in 2012
This year, again in an arbitrary manner, Apple approves some of our 2012 updates and rejects others. Three were approved in December, then four were rejected in December, then seven were Approved in January, then six were rejected in January.
These are the exact same apps that were rejected and later approved for a different reason in 2011. The exact same apps that were approved without issue in 2009 and 2010, and the exact same apps that Apple’s sales team is demoing on an ongoing basis to Law Enforcement to help sell their iPads and other devices. In fact, in addition to individual sales, we had bulk institutional purchases of our apps in October and November of 2011, and in January of this year.
Can we remain in the App Store?
With Apple’s sales team demoing our products at the same time they are being randomly rejected by Apple’s review team it is very hard to find any sense in this. We would like to continue development for Apple’s devices, but we require Apple’s support in doing this. Having the support of Apple’s sales team is apparently not enough.
Apple’s review team has demanded that we combine our individual apps into a single app and use “In-App Purchases”. This is a significant change – we will need to duplicate the multitasking features we get from from iOS (allow users to quickly and seamlessly switch from one statute to another while saving state, etc.), duplicate the features we get from the app store (notifications, secure downloads, purchases, updates), make user interface changes so that this appears seamless, and inform our users about the changes.
These changes will require a multi-month development effort. We have told Apple we are willing to do this for our 2013 releases, but that we need the 2012 releases to be approved now. Apples actions have been completely arbitrary, while our releases and apps have been consistent since 2009.
Another issue is that the “In-App Purchase” model is not currently supported by Apple’s Volume Purchase Program. We have had volume sales of our apps to law enforcement in Oct and Nov of 2011 as well as this month, Jan 2012. Apple is actively demoing our software to law enforcement agencies who in general would be expected to use Apple’s Volume Purchase Program to purchase our apps for their officers.
If Apple is going to demand significant design changes they need to provide a transition time to allow for development. Also in cases like this that would impact how people use and purchase our apps, we need a transition time to inform our users of the changes. Also any demands like this need to apply to all developers and all apps. All of our competitors currently have individual apps in the app store, and Apples rejections that we experienced 2011 and 2012 were arbitrarily applied.