Apple has announced an upcoming change to the App Store rules that could mean a significant change in how the market works. Developers will soon be able not only to contest the rejection of an app, but also the rule that caused this rejection. Error corrections are also no longer stopped by rule violations.
In a blog post about changes for apps and developers, Apple noted these important additions with remarkably little fanfare:
First, developers can not only contest decisions about whether an app violates a particular app store review guideline policy, but also have a mechanism to contest the policy itself. Second, for apps that are already in the App Store, bug fixes for policy violations are no longer delayed, except for those related to legal issues.
The rules for the App Store were in the headlines this week as the new Hey e-mail service was rejected by the platform due to the reluctance to share its subscription earnings with Apple.
Although the topic is hardly new and it is unlikely that a top-class piece like Hey (by David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of Basecamp) did not know that this would happen, this is not the first criticism of Apple's one size fits all. All business models for apps.
In an interview with theinformationsuperhighway, Phil Schiller of Apple said the company was not considering changing the rules that would allow Hey – and other apps with similar models – to work in the App Store without sacrificing a significant cut in its income.
Although Apple may not consider changing the rules immediately, it seems after today's announcement that the rules may change. How exactly feedback from developers is collected, processed and weighed is not addressed, but we can probably expect to hear more (and no doubt submit suggestions) in the many developer sessions this week.
The second change relieves app developers who, like Hey, may have been prevented from providing security updates due to business concerns. The separation of the two only seems right, as Apple doesn't want its users to be compromised since the negotiations are ongoing. This reduces the size of the stick that Apple uses against recalcitrant developers, but ultimately leads to a lower risk for everyone involved.
The changes to the App Store rules will be announced this summer, and further details will surely be announced by then.