Apple’s become more relaxed about the iOS App Store recently, with policy revisions and the notable admission of Google Voice for iPhone, but that’s not stopping Apple from rejecting app categories that it simply doesn’t like.
The latest victims are single-station radio players, according to a developer who builds and submits these apps to order. Jim Barcus, owner of DJB Radio Apps, claims that Apple recently rejected 10 of his radio apps, on the grounds that they’re essentially spam and are no different than generic fart apps. He even appealed to Steve Jobs, who reportedly wrote back, “Sorry, but we’ve made our decision.”
I understand why Apple would want to cut off the flow of radio station apps. A city can have a dozen stations, and accepting every submission would crowd the App Store’s “music” section with a whole lot of audio feeds that very few people care about. I’ve noticed this myself when searching for music apps.
But hopefully Apple’s policy isn’t as ham-fisted as Barcus describes. Popular radio stations in major markets probably deserve a pass, especially if they add unique features beyond simple audio streams. I wouldn’t mind if local concert listings, song request forms, built-in alarm clocks and iTunes purchase links became prerequisites for App Store acceptance.
Barcus’ apps are much more generic. Although they allow you to request songs by e-mail, they don’t have any other advanced features and are virtually indistinguishable from one another. These apps could be bumping up against Apple’s anti-cookie cutter policy, which is meant to cut off websites from submitting glorified feed readers to the app store. Glorified audio feeds shouldn’t be allowed either, but a good radio station with great features needn’t be rejected outright.