Did Apple Do the Right Thing by Rejecting an iPhone App Based on “Limited Utility”?

iPhone App Store

An iPhone App developer has sent the rejection letter that they received from Apple for their app called Pull My Finger to Mac Rumors.

This is the second iPhone application to have got rejected by Apple that I am aware of so far (I am sure there are many more), the last iPhone app to have got rejected was comic book app Murderdrome. 

The iPhone App seems to be based on the "Pull my finger" prank where the person playing the prank says "pull my finger" and then farts when it is pulled. You can checkout the YouTube video of the iPhone app below to get an overview of the app:

The iPhone App developer got the following letter from Apple:

"Hello Developer,

We’ve reviewed your application Pull My Finger. We have determined that this application is of limited utility to the broad iPhone and iPod touch user community, and will not be published to the App Store.

It may be very appropriate to share with friends and family, and we recommend you review the Ad Hoc method on the Distribution tab of the iPhone Developer Portal for details on distributing this application among a small group of people of your choosing.


Victor Wang
Worldwide Developer Relations
Apple, Inc."

Did Apple Do the Right Thing by Rejecting an iPhone App Based on "Limited Utility"?

Some folks have raised concerns regarding the "limited utility" reason provided by Apple for rejecting the app. Some have also questioned how iPhone apps like Koi Pond (which incidentally remains the #1 iPhone app on the App Store) or the in-famous "I am Rich" app can get approved while the "Pull My Finger" app got rejected.

Frankly I am not surprised, the iPhone app approval process is manual so its subjective. So while someone who reviewed the app found "limited utility" of the app there could have been someone else who would have found some utility of the iPhone app (though in case of some paid apps I am still clueless on how they made it to the App Store). I also don’t think this will be the last iPhone app to get rejected where people question Apple’s decision.

There are some who think that if an iPhone app meets the terms of Apple’s iPhone SDK then it should be left to iPhone users to download/buy the app while there are others who think that it would become unmanageable to allow useless apps to make it to the App Store.

Here are some of the iPhone apps that have either got removed from the App Store or rejected during the approval process due to various reasons:

In my opinion, if the iPhone app meets the terms of Apple’s iPhone SDK and also has a demo version (an important requirement in case of paid apps) so users can check it out before buying it, should be approved, irrespective of the utility of the iPhone app.

So what do you think?

[via Mac Rumors]

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  • LKM

    Demo versions are not allowed. You'll notice that there is not a single demo version in the App Store.

  • Blaine

    Sure there are demos….they might not be called "Demos" but there are plenty of them in the app store, Labyrinth LE (Free version), MrTriviaLite (Free version) etc. When he says "demo version" he is simply referring to the free version of a paid app that lets you "try before you buy".

  • TJ

    This is a tough question. While I agree that the AppStore has an abundance of software that is roughly equivalent to me dropping a fat load on your doorstep, some of the best applications have ZERO functionality other than amusing friends. Case in point? iPint. Greatest free beer drinking app EVER. But can it do anything? No.

    I think it is necessary for Apple to be harsher with the screening process, yes, but they should also factor in entertainment value. This App would be okay, so long as they included OTHER noises as well, making a full-fledged soundbite application that could imitate anything, with extra content packs released every once in awhile. THAT would be good functionality, and it would discourage apps that literally do ONE thing that isn't even useful.

    BUT… and this is big for me… I also think Apple should lighten up in other areas of its screening process and maybe allow someone like Saurik to post winterboard on the damn store. That way I wouldn't have to explain to people EVERY DAY how to jailbreak their iPhone using pwnagetool, or quickpwn, because it's a friggin pain.

  • Caco Potoso

    It makes it evident that a single-point-of-sale is evil… I understand that apple may need to limit the number of apps. Right now most of the stuff at the appstore is junk and you have to wade through pages and pages of junk to find something (which perhaps) is useful. Having said that, any app should be allowed and the market should decide, simply it needs to be done in the open internet, with browsers (more powerful than the extremely limited browser of the itunes) and google searches, etc. The whole concept of the appstore is wrong wrong wrong.


    Let the farts live on! I would buy it!

  • TJ

    I agree caco, with idea that the app store should at least be updated or redone to allow for web browsing of apps. My only issue with making it completely open-web is that it would make security a major problem.

  • Nukie

    Box Office came back to the iTunes Store. It's now called "Now Playing".

    The Limited Utility form letter is a joke. They should just come out and say "we think people might find this offensive". There are so many apps in the store that have limited or no utility whatsoever.

  • daniel

    I recently had my application called iclap rejected because of this. I made a very informative call to the support line and they apologized and escalated my situation. They are getting back to me soon and apologized about the rude email

  • Bobby C

    Apple cannot continue to screen apps like this. They're crazy. Think about how many people will be writing apps in the future, multiplied by all the incremental version updates. Think about how many people Apple will need to hire to review the new apps. It's gonna be a huge bottleneck that'll look really dumb once Google's app market arrives, which will have no screening process. Yeah, that's gonna open the flood gates for a ton of crappy software, but with correctly designed App store/market interface the good apps will rise to the top and the bad ones will sink fast to the bottom.

  • Ahsan Younis

    I dont like the idea but i have one suggestion for APPLE. IF they implement it every body will agree

    1. Apple should review application, so that it is not malicious, dangerous etc and it does not hurt apple agreements with service providers.

    2. Apple should then release the application. Users of Application will decide whether the application is worth buying or downloading or not. Every user must give his feedback in terms of YES or NO for what ever application he downloads.

    3. Then APPLE should remove the application if it has received more "NO" than "YES" and it has not been successful in achieving a specific number of downloads.

    4. Apple should move it to a non popular list for 1 month after which it should be removed

    What you thing guys.

  • Bob Easterday

    Good for Apple. Rather than ascribing such human attributes as "evil" and "unfair", one would do well to remember that Apple is a business. It is not a democracy. It doesn't have to be fair. You only get to vote with your pocket-book.

    I've seen far too many business models, "politically correct" themselves out of existence. I applaud any management willing to make the tough decisions in the interest of their brand and shareholders.

    Apple doesn't have to be "right". It only has to keep making money. If they need to make seemingly arbitrary decisions as to what apps they wish to be associated with their brand, then that is exactly what they should do.

  • My app also was rejected with the same comment…sigh.

    I mean, it's kind of dumb, I'll admit, but does show off the iPhone's 3D capability with my own little OpenGL engine & a 3D scene exported from 3D Studio MAX (got an exporter that will dump scene & all textures so you can view it like this) a good while ago by an artist friend.

    Check out a 7MB mov of the app running (sorry for the lousy camera work) & if a couple of 'friends' want to take a look, I can collect device IDs and then build an 'AdHoc' version…?

    I guess I'm sad Apple don't allow you to distribute an app for free, so long as it's solid, tested code (which mine is). Ah well, no point whinging…!

    http://www.alteredworlds.com/iPhone/iphonejbot.mov (7MB)