Apple's public image seems to have taken quite a beating over the past one week after two prominent iPhone app developers, Rogue Amoeba and Facebook's Joe Hewitt quit over Apple's App approval policies.
Another news story that could have caused further embarassment has been doused thanks to some quick face saving measures from Apple.
This time, it is about an iPhone app called 'Bobble Rep'. Developed by a firm named RG Entertainment, Bobble Rep was a database of contact information of all the US senators. Users may find the senators representing them either through zipcode or with the help of GPS services. All in all, a very handy tool for anyone to learn about or contact their elected representatives.
However, there was one thing that Apple did not feel amusing about the app. Each of the 540 senators had been represented with a caricature, the head of which bobbled when you shake your iPhone or flicked the head of the image. Though it is pretty harmless humor, the iPhone app approval staff found it objectionable and the app was rejected.
In a blog post written early last week, Mad Magazine caricaturist Tom Richmond, who had drawn all the caricatures for Bobble Rep, wrote
"This is the very reason that Apple as a company should be taken to task over its ludicrous and inconsistent app approval policies. Clearly this app does not “ridicule public figures” and is violating nothing"
However, Richmond has now announced that Apple has retracted its earlier stance and has now approved the app. So what has caused this almost instantaneous reaction from Apple? While Richmond attributes it to the media outrage that followed his blog article, it looks more like Apple had realized that the app rejection was more likely the case of an error in judgement by an app approval staff member rather than an actual violation of Apple's terms.
There have been several instances in the past when approval or rejection of apps stirred a controversy. Apple has stood its ground when they feel they are right and have relented when they feel otherwise. Bobble Rep seemingly belongs to the latter case.
With the App approval procedure already in an uninspiring state of affairs, do you think that the erring approval staff are making it much more difficult for Apple? How do you think the approval process should change? Please tell us your opinion.
By the way, if you wish to purchase the app, you can do so for $0.99 here (iTunes Link).