Apple Approves ‘0870’ iPhone App After 429 Days After O2 Finally Gives Go-Ahead

0870 app for UK iPhone users finally approved

An iPhone app that was submitted to the Apple App Store close to a year and a half ago for the UK iPhone users has finally been approved. 

It has taken 429 days to be precise for the approval to go through! And the reason – O2 and British Telecom were wary that this iPhone app would eat into their revenues, so much so they made their displeasure known to Apple. 

The free iPhone app, called 0870 lets users find alternate numbers to the 08* numbers that are used by financial service providers, government organizations,etc. These 08* numbers are charged 35p per minute over the normal calling charge that the callers have to pay while calling other normal landline numbers that start with 01 or 02. The 0870 app simply made the process of finding a cheaper alternate contact number a bit easier. However, under coercion from O2, the Apple App Store had rejected the app in November last year for attempting to "circumvent carrier features and policies".

The 0870 app was made available on Google Android from January of this year, and according to the freelance developer of the app, Simon Maddox, it has helped the callers save over £84,000 based on the number of successful conversions that users were able to make using the service. Following the approval on Android, Maddox took the issue with Apple again, and according to Maddox's contact in Apple, the rejection of the app was more so because of O2's issue with such an app that could potentially dent their revenues than any policy circumvention.

However, after a lot of discussions between Maddox and Apple and between Apple and O2, the carrier has finally decided to give their go-ahead. This was probably because O2 realized that they cannot hold on to the clause of 'policy circumvention' for any more length considering that the 0870 had gathered sufficient publicity by then. If you're in UK, you can download the free iPhone app using this direct iTunes link.

Apple has had numerous issues in the past with carriers dictating terms on which iPhone apps be approved and which cannot. Do you think there needs to be a line drawn over how much the carriers can interfere in the iPhone apps approval process? Please let us know in the comments.

Update:

In a statement to Guardian, O2 denies holding up the approval of 0870 iPhone app, indirectly blaming Apple for the delay in approving the iPhone app:

"We can confirm that O2 was first contacted about the iPhone 0870 app in September this year. We asked for more information on what it would do and confirmed within two days of the initial contact that we would not have a problem with the app." 

It will be interesting to hear Apple's side of the story.

[via Telegraph]

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