According to some reports, Apple’s recent updating of its App Review Guidelines appeared to potentially allow the Cupertino giant to disable any app that promoted titles available from a different developer. Was this the case? Nick Johnson reports.
When: September 2012
Law stated as at: 5 November 2012
Apple has amended its App Review Guidelines to add a new clause stating:
“Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”
Why this matters:
Apple reviews all apps before they can appear within its App Store. Its App Review Guidelines set out various rules and requirements with which apps have to comply.
It's likely the primary targets of the new restriction are app promotion services such as FreeAppADay, which drive significant levels of downloads. These promotion services effectively allow third party developers to buy a higher spot in the download charts, thus preventing Apple's charts from acting as a pure meritocracy.
However, the new clause is somewhat ambiguous in its scope. It remains to be seen whether Apple will apply it as prohibiting all in-app sales and promotion of third party apps, or just those that borrow particular elements – of look-and-feel, functionality etc – from the App Store. Will it for instance be applied to bar review apps, offering editorial criticism and review of third party apps? Until Apple's practice in this area becomes clearer, any in-app references to third party apps will need to be treated with caution.