By David Worthington | Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm
The appearance of wrong doing can create a perception that trumps reality. Apple has needlessly tarnished its reputation in the industry by shrouding its iPhone App Store approval process in secrecy, fomenting speculation that it is deeply flawed and unfair. Only transparency will rebuild trust.
It took Apple eleven days to certify Facebook 3.0, which debuted on App Store yesterday. That’s less time than the two-week period that Apple says 95 percent of apps are approved within. But Facebook is one of the App Store’s most popular programs, and lots of iPhone owners were waiting for the new version.
Apple’s prolonged approval process drew the ire of lead developer Joe Hewitt, who blogged publicly about his frustrations and said even two weeks are two weeks too many. Facebook is a high profile App Store developer, and Hewitt’s criticism cast a negative light on Apple that was intensified by press reports.
It might seem like an odd comparison, but I’m reminded of the Whitewater investigation that plagued much of the Clinton presidency. A friend who used to work in the White House told me that one senior adviser told the President that the scandal would be defused if he made documents available for review. Secrecy is what gave Whitewater a life of its own, and the President’s opponents exploited the ensuing distrust.
Apple has had numerous Whitewater moments. There are numerous rejected apps, and there isn’t always a clear reason behind Apple’s refusal to publish them. Now the FCC is investigating Apple, and Microsoft is appealing to forsaken Apple developers to develop for Windows Mobile.
Like the Clinton administration before it, nothing is stopping Apple from clearing the air– except for its deeply rooted penchant for secrecy. If Apple can embrace transparency, it might even come off looking good. The perception couldn’t get much worse.
The company has said that every app undergo a security review. That’s great–I’d like to hear more about it and other steps that Apple takes to deliver quality applications for the iPhone. Until it does, the controversy will continue.