Apple's Response To App Rejection Backlash? Ban Developers From Talking About It

from the digging-a-deeper-hole dept

As the backlash against Apple’s arbitrary banning of apps it doesn’t like (or which it feels competes) from the iPhone App Store continues, it appears that rather than come clean, Apple is going in the opposite direction. It’s trying to impose its own monolithic tendency for silence on developers as well. That is, it’s now imposing non-disclosure agreements on developer rejections — telling them they cannot tell anyone that their apps have been rejected. Once again, Apple may discover that gagging developers on how Apple is screwing them probably isn’t going to do much to endear those developers to the iPhone platform.

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Comments on “Apple's Response To App Rejection Backlash? Ban Developers From Talking About It”

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Timothy says:


I’ve got news for Apple. If they reject my app and I think the letter is worth making public I’ll be making it public no matter what their non-disclosure agreement with me says. Let them sue. The bad publicity they’d face by the time we were through would cost them far more than they’d ever have endured by having their letters published.

Spectere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Phhhtt

why not just NOT make an app for Apple and put it on Android or something?

Agreed wholeheartedly.

You’d also have the advantage of jumping onto a new platform. As good as it looks, Android still needs third-party software to truly compete with other smartphone operating systems. Jumping on a new market with a solid product is a good way to rake in a lot of cash.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

I don’t understand how a rejection can constitute an agreement which would make the non-disclosure portion binding. How can Apple bind someone after the fact.

Certainly if developers agree to such non-disclosure agreements they might be enforced, but the way this article is written it appears that Apple is just slipping these “agreements” onto their rejection letters. And that’s not a binding contract by any means.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

The only real explanation that I can come up with is that in order to be a developer in the first place you would have to sign an NDA and when they send you the rejection letter, they probably go out of their way to “remind” you that all communication between you and them falls under that NDA.

Otherwise, they have to get you to sign it or else it’s not binding.

Beta says:

A modest proposal: set up a web site where developers can post descriptions of their apps before submitting them to Apple. A simple mechanism can indicate which are available from the Store and which aren’t, with no violation of the NDA. Then I suppose Apple will try to sue the site for trademark infringement or something.

Seriously, this is an amazingly inept move by Apple, a lawyer’s reflexive response to the uproar over their last amazingly inept move. Are they trying to drive people to a new platform?

Jonathan Lang (user link) says:

RE: Phhhtt

In response to Timothy’s comment; if I were a developer for IPhone, I would not be as concerned about whether Apple would sue me as to whether they would block me from app development process outright; them denying one app does not mean that you are not allowed to develop future apps, does it? However, if you piss them off, that certainly could cause them just reject ALL of your future apps, I would think.

I really think Apple needs to realize that their obsession with control over everything they touch may have been a major contributing factor over why they seem to have this established track record of starting out as number 1 and then being pushed down to number 2 by someone less (note I say “less”, not necessarily “not at all”) heavy handed then they are. Granted Microsoft probably isn’t THE best examples of supporters of open development, but don’t you think that Microsoft would have much less dominance over the PC market if they tried to decide who could make computers with the the Windows operating system, or who could make software for the Windows operating system?

Howard_NYC says:

they work for the competition

every time I see the failure of an efective company, quality service or useable product, I ask one question:

which of the decision makers was secretly working for the competition?

yo Apple dude, the Soviet Union was the ultimate in closed systems, central planning and law-by-decree, et al… look where they are… dustbin of history…

my preference: open source, wisdom of the crowd, Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand and public discourse…

Joel says:

And we say Microsoft is bad...

Does anyone remember the time when Microsoft was this horrible entity that no one loved, but we used their stuff anyway? Then along comes Apple (well, Apple returns), and everyone LOVES Apple.

They are the Greatest thing. They are So Easy to Use.

Oh, wait, but they are even more protective of their software and harder on independent developers than MS.

And they are fiercely protective of their OS software and only want it on Apple Machines, prevent outside manufacturers from building boxes. Complete control – they make the hardware, they make the OS. But they’ll consider letting their OS on a PC.

And we’ve all heard how they treat employees.

So is this the rise of the next Evil Empire?

UUUD444 says:

Apple is really going to pay for this...

With the rising popularity of Ubuntu, Fedora, and even Mandriva, and with more distributors loading said OSes on their machines “out of box” Apple is losing one of its biggest points of appeal–Not being Windows. With some of their machiavelian practices that are becoming more and more public, they are quickly going to lose what they have gained. You don’t succeed by crapping on your customers.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Apple is really going to pay for this...

First, the “rise of Linux” has been coming for 15 years. Maybe next year? (answer: not).

Second, Apple has *always* crapped on (a small segment) of their customers. For the overwhelming majority of their target audience the issues we are discussing are not relevant. A very minor portion of the population are developers or hackers…whining about not being able to hack an Apple product isn’t going to get much userbase sympathy.

nasch says:

Re: Re: Apple is really going to pay for this...

IMO crapping on developers = crapping on your own product. If in a couple of years Windows Mobile has thousands of apps, Android has hundreds, and iPhone has dozens, where does that leave the iPhone competitively? Whatever advantage they have in hardware will be transitory. For long-term success they need to cultivate the platform, and they cannot do that by driving away the people who are going to deliver what users really want.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Re: Re: Apple is really going to pay for this...

Agreed, but if Apple/Steve Jobs want to keep complete control of the platform, then supporting 3rd party developers/software/hardware is a very minor priority.

Apple builds an entire system that for the most part Just Works. Use Apple computer, peripherals and software and you have a *fantastic* system. It is rare that an all-Apple system runs into issues.

The majority of Apple users I know (the non-technical ones) stick to the default system quite closely. They rarely add anything new and when they do it usually comes from Apple themselves.

It is THAT userbase that has no sympathy for the cries in this thread. And THAT userbase is the majority of Apple owners.

I love the Apple platform. I love what a “pure” system can do. But I also like having control of my computers, so it is for this reason that as of today I do not own a Mac. I keep threatening to buy one, but I struggle between my desire for “cool” and my desire for “control”.

Timothy says:


Yes, I own a small business, but my iPhone app is just a really good (I think) side project and not tied to it. Certainly I would appeal a rejection, but I don’t see that working.

If I were to piss off Apple it wouldn’t matter for any future applications, it only costs a few dollars to register another legal entity which I could submit an application under.

Finally, any bad publicity that Apple would face would go hand in hand with publicity for my app. An app doesn’t have to sit in the app store to make money, that’s just the easiest way and then only if the app can float high enough to be seen.

mobiGeek says:

Re: Phhhtt

So you risked time and effort into creating a product only to be completely shut down by an arbitrary process.

And now you are willing to try again?

For pete’s sake…WHY? Let’s say you end up with an application they do allow, and you get some users and start putting in more and more time fixing bugs, adding features, etc…

Nothing stops them from shutting you down yet again.

So how is this a smart business move? You are RISKING money in the GAMBLE that your app will be allowed, by them, and not get pulled down for whatever reason they so choose. If you do not have an intimate business relationship with them (ADP does not count), then you are simply GAMBLING.

That isn’t a smart business decision.

Benjie says:

Free speech?

Just wondering about the legality of an NDA in the first place. It is impossible to sign away a ‘right’ even if you agreed to it. Put an NDA in your App that says by trying out your app that Apple agrees to not disclose any desisions surround the App without your appoval. Then they reject your app and you break the NDA and if they press legal charges, they broke your NDA.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Not very binding/enforcable

I have to think that these non-disclosure agreements can’t really be enforced. Consider these possible scenarios:

1) Are they requiring you sign the NDA _before_ getting access to the SDK? In that case, existing developers can simply refuse.

2) Are they including the NDA as part of the rejection? In that case, they want developers to sign a statement agreeing not to talk about the rejection so the app can be rejected? The developer has nothing to lose by refusing- no one would sign it.

3) Are they trying to say it’s already covered under the old NDA to get access to the SDK? That’s a tough legal argument to make.

4) Are they now requiring this at the time of submission? If so, all you have to is make public that you have submitted an app, and then if it’s not approved timely someone else can talk about that.

The only thing that’s left is that you’re prevented from ever mentioning you submitted an app at all under the terms of the NDA required to gain any access to the SDK. If this is the result of a new change, then anyone who got the SDK under the old agreement is still free to do what they want. And again, it’s a real stretch to say the old agreement already covers this.

Kuato says:

re: Phhhtt

I’ve got news for Apple. If they reject my app and I think the letter is worth making public I’ll be making it public no matter what their non-disclosure agreement with me says. Let them sue. The bad publicity they’d face by the time we were through would cost them far more than they’d ever have endured by having their letters published.

Don’t worry if you’re in the United States. You cannot sign away your constitutional rights. (Freedom of the Press) NDA’s are worthless. Let them waste their money sueing you in court. Then have them pay you for your costs when they lose. This will also set a precedence against them.

Soon(er) or later Apple will push people too far.


Sneeje says:

Re: re: Phhhtt

An NDA cannot “gag” you, but it can impose enforceable penalties. I have no idea of the specifics in this instance, but if I pay you $50 to not disclose that I have a tattoo in an embarrassing location and you later disclose that fact–I can sue you for breach of contract and demand the return of the $50 and whatever else was in the contract.

The contract never deprives you of your constitutional right, just enforces an agreement between two parties.

The real question in this case is whether or not the contract was formed properly and *both* parties had the appropriate opportunity to agree to it.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Businesses Shouldn't Gamble?

RE #23
” then you are simply GAMBLING. That isn’t a smart business decision.”

Dude, are you really saying that gambling is a bad business decision? Have you studied business? Done any? Studied stats?

Business is always a gamble. Risks are measured and taken. Investments placed, projects launched. Hires made. M&A. Not one of the above isn’t a gamble.

The best you can do is measure your risk, take the best bets you can based on what you know, calculate expected results based on probabilities, and then hope.

Haven’t you heard that 90% of new businesses fail! Yet those 10% end up creating all the jobs and wealth of our global economy. You don’t think business should gamble?

If you take your emotion out of it, you will conclude the Apple situation is sub-optimal for a developer. But you will estimate that there is a ~95% chance that your app is accepted, and factor in that risk. That may push you to Symbian, Palm, etc. OR you may just choose to do the iPhone app anyway. In many cases, that IS a smart business decision.

Old Iphone User says:

Just Hack the phone

Why run your iphone limited to what apple says. I just hacked mine and do what i will. It’s been hacked since a month after release, I didn’t run in like the sheep out there and buy it the first day. If you let apple push you around your a fool. To the developers out there. Just put your project(s) out there, all us hacked users will find it if it’s good. Honestly you think apple will let any app that interferes with them making money. I hate apple but like the iphone. For the price it was a good deal. Why should i have paid 600 for a blackberry when the iphone only cost me 400. I didn’t sign no 3 year contract though to get it. It all comes down to just knowing how to shop.

crystalattice (profile) says:

Apple becomes Microsoft

There are 4 Macs in my house and my wife wants to buy a new one to replace the old eMac.

The way Apple is treating developers, and consumers, is pushing me towards saying no on new Macs. I love OS X and the technology coming out of Apple. But I can’t agree with the business practices. Regardless of whether I convince my wife, the next computer for myself will be strictly Linux.

Microsoft got slammed for years for releasing shoddy products and strong-arm tactics. Apple may have better products but it is just as much of a bully.

I was interested in the iPhone when it came out, though I wouldn’t buy one due to the lock-in w/ AT&T. Now that Android is out, I will look into that. Or a Linux phone.

I just don’t feel right giving Apple any more money.

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