Apple developers, you're living on the edge

Apple's sending some seriously mixed messages to developers. A paid app gets yanked from the App Store hours after appearing in Steve Jobs' keynote, he calls rejected app store complainers liars, but he says the platform is still a gold mine. Sure, a dangerous one.

Molly Wood Former Executive Editor
Molly Wood was an executive editor at CNET, author of the Molly Rants blog, and host of the tech show, Always On. When she's not enraging fanboys of all stripes, she can be found offering tech opinions on CBS and elsewhere, and offering opinions on everything else to anyone who will listen.
Molly Wood
3 min read
Apple is sending some seriously mixed messages to developers this week.

In Monday's WWDC keynote, Steve Jobs made an impassioned case to the home crowd of Apple developers, assuring them, just as he did in his recent All Things D interview, that "95 percent of all apps submitted are accepted within seven days." He tried to reassure them that there are really only three reasons apps are rejected (they don't do what the developer says they do, they use private APIs, or they crash).

He reiterated his commitment to two platforms--the "fully open" HTML5 standard and the "curated" App Store. And he trumpeted the fact that the company's app store revenue sharing has paid out $1 billion to developers. Plus, he said the iAds platform would be such a boon to developers that they could simply tell Apple where to put the ads and "start making money."

Jobs developers
Steve Jobs at WWDC on Monday made his case to developers. James Martin/CNET
And then, just a few hours later, one of the paid iPad apps Jobs trumpeted on stage--the Pulse news aggregator--had been unceremoniously yanked from the App Store.

The New York Times Company complained to Apple about the $3.99 Pulse app, saying it commercializes the Times' free RSS feeds and also frames Times content within the app, with other content around it. The company said those uses violate the Times Co.'s RSS terms of use. Apple removed the app. (And why not? I mean, the Times complained. Off with your head, little developer!)

Later Tuesday, the app mysteriously reappeared, and even the developers said they didn't know why, considering they'd received a pretty pointed letter from Apple about it being removed, and instructing them, essentially, to work it out with the Times.

Now, of course, other paid reader apps exist, and, like Pulse, can presumably pull public RSS feeds from the New York Times or any Times Co. paper in just the same way and are still available in the App Store. Are they next? (I hope I didn't just ruin it for them.)

The other question that comes up, of course, is that if there are three reasons an app can be initially rejected from the store, there seem to be innumerable and incomprehensible reasons an app can be yanked from the store. Plus, the three reasons Jobs gave don't seem to include ridiculing public figures (or otherwise including objectionable content), duplicating functionality already on the iPhone, or any of the other reasons on this list, or, better yet, this site.

And let's not forget that, while on stage with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg at All Things D last week, Jobs essentially painted most of the people complaining about App Store rejections (or Mark Fiore, specifically, depending on how you read it) as "son of a bitch liar(s)." So, I guess it's not helping to complain to AppRejections.com. You're clearly just lying to get your 15 minutes of fame, you pesky would-be iPhone developer, you.

Jobs' message to developers this week might have sounded simple on stage: three easy rules to follow, 95 percent approval rate, and cash money just rolling into your pockets. Frankly, I can't believe any developer still believes any of those lines, and after the events of this week, everyone ought to be reading between them. You may think the App Store is a gold mine, but it sounds like one hell of a dangerous mine.