By Harry McCracken | Monday, November 23, 2009 at 10:06 am
BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl scored an interview with Apple marketing honcho Phil Schiller, focused on the wildly popular, ever-controversial iPhones App Store. It’s a good read and I’m glad Schiller feels the need to address the topic in public. It’s completely true that Apple’s hardcore approach to app approval isn’t without its upsides–there are certainly fewer insanely buggy iPhone apps than there would be if iPhone app distribution was a free-for-all, and owners of non-jailbroken iPhones don’t have to worry much about stuff like this. Schiller also hints that Apple may reconsider its silly refusal to approve apps that depict the iPhone or other Apple products to help consumers figure out how to use them.
But this metaphor that Schiller used didn’t comfort me much:
Schiller compares Apple’s role to that of a retailer determining which products line store shelves. “Whatever your favorite retailer is, of course they care about the quality of products they offer,” he says. “We review the applications to make sure they work as the customers expect them to work when they download them.”
Of course, Apple has every right to decide which apps are available on its own App Store. But Apple’s role is really that of a monopolistic distributor , not a retailer. If the company permitted true competition–Cydia is too arcane and sketchy to count–the controversy would end in a nanosecond.
I keep coming back to Steve Jobs’ explanation of the approval process during the Stevenote in which the App Store was unveiled.
Sounded good to me then; still sounds good to me today….