Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apps Removed From Sale Are Un-Unavailable From Both App Stores

Bear with me, because this gets confusing. Last week, it was discovered that old apps no longer for sale in either App Store were being removed from users’ purchase history, meaning that they could not be re-downloaded. Yours truly:

This might all simply be a misconfiguration or a mistake, but I’ve long been worried something like this may happen. This is software that was previously purchased; while it’s no longer available for general sale, it should still be offered to those who purchased it to download again. I certainly hope this isn’t a deliberate change.

Tapbots figured out a clever workaround by making one of their old apps, Tweetbot 3, available for sale in a single country; they chose Burkina Faso. But, though I suspected this was a change made in error, Mark Brown of Pocket Gamer asked Apple and they said that it was intentional:

Now, a spokesperson for Apple has explained to PG that “if [developers] remove their apps from the store, they cannot be redownloaded until the app has been resubmitted to the App Store”.

So, bad news, right? Eli Hodapp of Touch Arcade referenced Brown’s comment in a story he wrote about the saga, and then Apple came calling:

We fired off a cursory email to Apple, but felt confident publishing this as both historically Pocket Gamer writes stories based on good sources and in nearly a decade of working with Apple, everyone gets the same response. Apple’s PR is a well oiled machine with two settings: No response (or a “No comment”) or the response. I just got off the phone with Apple’s US PR who have assured me there has been no policy change. We will update as we get more information, hopefully today.

What a saga. It sounds like this must have been a misconfiguration, but it seems odd that it has been going on for so long (well over a week now) and that it affects both stores. I also question Brown’s source — not that he lied, but that they were not fully informed, or they didn’t understand the context. As Hodapp says, Apple PR is the best in the business; if this is their blunder, it’s one of very few.