iPhone Developer's 'Serious Doubts' About Working With Apple

steve jobs hand on chin

A year old, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone App Store is a massive success. But it’s still full of quirks, and dumb moves by Apple are still not winning any goodwill from developers.

For instance, Instapaper developer Marco Arment should, in theory, be thrilled with his first year selling iPhone apps: He’s been promoted a few times by Apple in the App Store, he’s likely made thousands of dollars in his spare time selling the pro edition of his app, etc.

But in an essay titled “Serious Doubts,” Arment points out some lingering flaws in the App Store — and some new ones — that just shouldn’t be there, creating problems for Apple’s partners.

“I’ve never doubted the viability of running a serious business of writing iPhone apps before,” he says. “For the first time, now, I am.”

Why? You owe it to Marco to read his full essay. But here’s to bullet-point version:

  • Still takes too long for apps to get approved — about a week. And now that apps are getting rejected so often for minor reasons, many apps need to go through the long approval process twice.
  • Apple refused to answer any questions about the App Store at WWDC, which developers paid thousands of dollars to attend.
  • Apple’s new parental controls and age rating systems force all apps that can access the Web, like Instapaper, to “tell buyers that they contain frequent nudity, intense profanity, and drug use,” which is creepy and not true.
  • iTunes Connect, the software developers use to manage their apps, “is extremely buggy and frequently mishandles important operations.”
  • “Trying to communicate with Apple is like talking to a brick wall.”
  • “Apple thinks this is good enough. And that’s the scariest part of all.”

Read Arment’s full essay >

We doubt this will end Arment’s — or any developer’s — quest to make a buck off the App Store.

But Apple really should pay more attention to these problems, and fix them as quickly as possible, as there’s no reason for the company to force its partners into such a strained, bittersweet marriage. The bad press and resentment — especially as App Store antitrust arguments pop into the public consciousness — aren’t worth it.

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