Disclaimer: there are aspects of the App Store approval process I find utterly appalling, particularly the stealth “no competing with Apple” unwritten rule.
Nevertheless, here’s a mental exercise for you. Consider the user-facing download-to-own software stores offered by the game consoles: Wii Ware, XBox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network.
In what way is any Apple App Store policy more onerous than these stores’ developer policies?
Here are some links to help you research:
- To become an Authorized Developer for Wii, WiiWare and/or Nintendo DS/DSi
- WELCOME TO MICROSOFT CASUAL GAMES!
- SCE DevNet (almost utterly opaque… see also Developing for PS3 PlayStation Network (PSN))
Once we get past the much more expensive licensing, the pre-vetting of both product ideas (Microsoft: “Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of your game and your contact information. We’ll send you a content submission form.”) and developers (Nintendo: “the authorization for Wii/WiiWare or Nintendo DS will be based upon your relevant game industry experience.”), and the fact that these platforms generally reject entire classes of applications (anything that isn’t a game)… I think it’s interesting to compare the anger and fury vented over the App Store, and consider that almost nobody is railing against these stores, even though they’re much more closed than Apple’s platform, and may collectively reach more users.
We might also do well to note how closed mobile development was before the iPhone. I know I’ve told this story before, but in a JavaOne conversation with O’Reilly people about how to get Java ME books moving, I said that everyone with an interest in ME (myself included) had figured out that getting your apps to end users was effectively impossible, and that with the network API often disabled for third-party apps, there wasn’t much point in writing ME apps anyways. My suggestion for an ME book that would move copies would be one which provided “the names, e-mails, and phone numbers of all the carrier and handset executives you’d have to go down on in order to get your apps on their phones.”