Published: 10 years ago

My take on Apple’s ban of the 3rd-most prolific iPhone developer

As most of you might have read on several blogs, Apple banned the 3rd-most prolific iPhone developer, Khalid Shaikh, from the App Store. Khalid has published 943 applications in less than 9 months. That’s an average of 5 apps per day, every day, for 250 days.

From reading the comments on these blogs, you can easily divide them into two different typologies: “thanks, Apple, for removing part of the cancer from the App Store” and “why is Apple banning applications they approved in the first place.” I won’t hide that I agree with the former.

There are few considerations I’d like to make:

  • Having an abundance of apps is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with publishing 100 apps if you have the content for them. I know, it would be ideal if all the travel guides and similar apps would just release a $0.99 “container app,” and then sell all the different variations inside that app, especially now that that’s possible thanks to the iPhone OS 3.0’s in-app purchase feature. Because having more apps increases your visibility in the App Store, I can’t see that happening anytime soon, unless, of course, Apple forces them to do so.
  • Apple isn’t at fault. At least in this particular situation. Yes, more than 900 apps should have raised a red flag, but Apple can’t afford (and honestly, as developer, I can’t either) to thoroughly check every single application; it would take forever! When we signed up for the developer program, we agreed not to publish applications we don’t have permission or the right to publish. Just to give you an example, I partnered with PetMD to publish all their PetMD applications. If instead of creating an ad hoc developer account, we decided to use mine, how could Apple have possibly known whether I had permission to use PetMD’s content?
  • iPhone developers are very rare. This case just confirmed my theory that iPhone developers don’t exist in large numbers; good developers are even rarer. This one guy basically owned approximately 2% of 50,000 apps in the store.
  • It’s time for a few significant changes. There are two things that can be changed: the way people look at the App Store (as a distribution tool and not as a marketing tool) and the way in which people find apps (or the App Store in the way it showcases these apps). There absolutely has to be a more effective way to ensure that the better apps rise from the masses of crappy not-so-great apps than Apple’s current system, which is based on user ratings or average number of recent downloads.

I’d like to hear from you. What’s your take on this?

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