Friday, January 30, 2009

The App Store Product Release Cycle: An Exercise in Frustration

I'm not sure how others have found the App Store approval to be, but I found it anything but smooth. In trying to get MacGourmet touch approved for the App Store, it was rejected three times:
  • The first rejection, 3 days after submission, was because I didn't acknowledge that there might not be an active connection available. OK, I've noticed that other apps don't necessarily do this, but I found the reference, sort of, so fine, it's a logical request. Resubmit.

  • The second rejection, 3 days after resubmission, was because I didn't provide "login information" for testing... which shows a lack of understanding about syncing that the average MacGourmet user wouldn't share. Syncing is with the app, not a web site that requires a username/password... Fine, I provided a download link for the prerelease of 2.4 and a link to the set up instructions. Resubmit.

  • The third rejection, after another 3 days, was the result of the wrong build hastily getting placed on the server. A 30 second fix. Turn around time on that one? 4 days.

As a developer who is used to complete control over my release schedule, and when products are "ready for release", this whole exercise is an exercise in frustration. Not to mention, the whole process is time consuming. 3 days for each turnaround, which is probably decent, is just too long. Does everyone experience this kind of submission experience? I'll bet that once Apple decided to relax their standards and let iFart into the store, that it wasn't rejected even once...

There IS a flip side supposedly too though, as detailed here: Android app uproar sparks debate over open app store model. Apparently an app store can be a little TOO loose, at least according to the writer, who advocates needing submission standards similar to Apple's. Really, though, how is software downloaded from the Android app store different from software you can download and install now for your Mac or PC? These problems are all possible when you download a Mac application, but you hope that the developers are good citizens and do their best to "do no harm" and for the most part, that works.

As you can see, the problems with the App Store go beyond just what Craig Hockeberry refers to in his open letter to Steve Jobs, Ringtone apps. Anything more complicated than a fart "Ringtone app" is bound to also be a LOT more difficult to get approved, if for no other reason than the testers don't read or misunderstand requirements, and don't know how to use the companion apps the iPhone apps are made to work with.

Add to that, it's getting harder and harder to make a compelling business reason to even produce apps for the store, at least anything beyond what you can develop quickly and sell for a buck: The future of the crApp Store as detailed by the folks at Chilli X.

Now that MacGourmet touch is out, I do plan to add to it, but I'll have to balance that time with development on the main MacGourmet product and I have no choice but to base that time on what MacGourmet touch can generate for revenue. I love developing for the Mac, don't get me wrong, and that extends to the iPhone, but everything has a cost, and if the App Store doesn't have a significant enough return on time investment, then I'll have to spend a larger bulk of my time every day elsewhere.


At January 30, 2009 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like you're frustrated, sorry to hear that... but i don't know that implying that you may not keep developing MacGourmet touch is the best way to get people to go out on a limb and buy it..

At January 30, 2009 12:36 PM, Blogger Michael said...

@Anonymous: That wasn't the implication at all, just a statement that time has to be budgeted, and if the whole process becomes too difficult, and the "costs" too high, then that time has to be adjusted accordingly. There wasn't any implication that development won't still get done in the future, just that the whole process, compared to developing for the Mac, doesn't help things...


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