Friday, September 4, 2009

iPhone app review process - a level playing field?

Facebook submitted its iPhone app 3.0 on August 16, 2009 (according to TechCrunch). Joe Hewitt, the Facebook iPhone app lead, wrote a blog a week later and proposed "the review process needs to be eliminated completely." TechCrunch then wrote "Tear Down This App Store Wall." Users were inpatient too, pointing fingers to Apple. I could feel Apple was under great pressure.

Facebook 3.0 for iPhone was available in Apple App Store late night August 27th. People were so excited as you could see the wave at Twitter. I found a bug that crashed the app every time I scrolled my friend list to the bottom (friends' names in Chinese) and reported it to Facebook. Then Facebook 3.0.1 came out three days later. Bugs fixed. That was really QUICK! Yesterday afternoon, September 3rd, Facebook 3.0.2 was out. That was unbelievably efficient from Apple.

Set aside any discussion to remove iPhone app review process for now. As a small developer, I have another concern about a level playing field in the app review process. I was very surprised it took Apple only 11 days to review Facebook 3.0. It took Apple two weeks or more to review my app for its first release and also a subsequent update. My app, Real-Time Stocks, has only five views (aka screens), obviously cannot compare with Facebook for its breadth of functionality. How could Apple approve a huge Facebook app a few days faster than my tiny app? What's more shocking to me, Facebook 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 were both approved in about three days. That really disturbed me.

I submitted a new app, Men vs Chimps, on August 25th, and just received ready-for-sale notice from Apple yesterday evening. Now I know during the review process for my app, Apple approved three Facebook app submissions. My little iPhone app has only three views: a menu, a game view, and a result view. You don't even have to count to know Facebook app has more than ten times as many views as mine. But the most important point here is that Facebook submitted two updates a few days after my submission, and both of them came out ahead of mine.

Now, I want to know if Apple is willing to update my app on a super fast track if I have a bug fix for my app. Didn't I pay as much as Facebook did for the standard iPhone Developer Program? As long as there is a review process for iPhone apps, I suppose all apps should play by the same rules. Unless there is a rule that I don't know.

1 comment:

2Q2BSTR8 said...

It actually doesn't surprise me that happened. "small" business owner, or in this case "small" app creator, gets pushed to the back if the line because the big guy/company is well known. It high school all over again. Popularity contest, well not reallly a contest cause obviously we know who is has their name everywhere.
It 's always money, and who you know. It sucks. What can we do? Could you sue? Probably not. I hate it for you. So sorry. But just to let you know. I would go for your app before theirs anyway.