Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Fear and Loathing of App Review

Sean Hollister, the Verge:

We’ve known for months that WordPress and Hey weren’t alone in being strong-armed by the most valuable company in the world, ever since Stratechery’s Ben Thompson reported that 21 different app developers quietly told him they’d been pushed to retroactively add IAP in the wake of those two controversies. But until now, we hadn’t heard of many devs willing to publicly admit it. They were scared.

And they’re still scared, says [Proton CEO Andy Yen]. Even though Apple changed its rules on September 11th to exempt “free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to a paid web based tool” from the IAP requirement — Apple explicitly said email apps are exempt — ProtonMail still hasn’t removed its own in-app purchases because it fears retaliation from Apple, he says.

He claims other developers feel the same way: “There’s a lot of fear in the space right now; people are completely petrified to say anything.”

Of all the problems the App Store has had since it launched, the one absolute thing that should never have become an issue is developers’ fear of reviewers. Opinions may differ on whether the degree of fear is appropriate, but the fact that it persists for many developers is a huge reputational red flag.