iPhone Radio Station Apps Not Welcome Anymore

By  |  Friday, November 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

Apple’s become more relaxed about the iOS App Store recently, with policy revisions and the notable admission of Google Voice for iPhone, but that’s not stopping Apple from rejecting app categories that it simply doesn’t like.

The latest victims are single-station radio players, according to a developer who builds and submits these apps to order. Jim Barcus, owner of DJB Radio Apps, claims that Apple recently rejected 10 of his radio apps, on the grounds that they’re essentially spam and are no different than generic fart apps. He even appealed to Steve Jobs, who reportedly wrote back, “Sorry, but we’ve made our decision.”

I understand why Apple would want to cut off the flow of radio station apps. A city can have a dozen stations, and accepting every submission would crowd the App Store’s “music” section with a whole lot of audio feeds that very few people care about. I’ve noticed this myself when searching for music apps.

But hopefully Apple’s policy isn’t as ham-fisted as Barcus describes. Popular radio stations in major markets probably deserve a pass, especially if they add unique features beyond simple audio streams. I wouldn’t mind if local concert listings, song request forms, built-in alarm clocks and iTunes purchase links became prerequisites for App Store acceptance.

Barcus’ apps are much more generic. Although they allow you to request songs by e-mail, they don’t have any other advanced features and are virtually indistinguishable from one another. These apps could be bumping up against Apple’s anti-cookie cutter policy, which is meant to cut off websites from submitting glorified feed readers to the app store. Glorified audio feeds shouldn’t be allowed either, but a good radio station with great features needn’t be rejected outright.


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15 Comments For This Post

  1. Darryl Wright Says:

    Sometimes, Apple's just right about stuff.

  2. @TheCentauress Says:

    Sure it is, Darryl.

    If Stevie-boy can't profit off it, it MUST be bad.

    Meanwhile, he becomes the Moral Majority of one…

  3. David Says:

    Okay, so companies should not be concerned with profit? How do you make your living?

    And I like Count Chocula. Yet Giant(a supermarket) doesn't carry it. The CEO of Giant most be making a moral decision. An enterprise doesn't have to carry everything in creation, you know. Ikea doesn't sell milk. Best Buy doesn't sell puppies.

    Sheesh. Get over it.

  4. Peter Says:

    "Ikea doesn't sell milk. Best Buy doesn't sell puppies."

    I'd agree with this if there was some other way to buy milk or puppies. In the real world, if Ikea doesn't want to sell milk, I can go to Ralph's, Piggly-Wiggly, or A&P. If I want puppies, I can go to the pound or to a local pet shop.

    Don't get me wrong–it's Apple's Store and they can decide to sell something or not sell something. No problem with that. The issue is that they are the only store. So if I want an App that will play WKBW or the like, I'm out of luck.

    I wouldn't have a problem with Apple's policies if there was some other way to distribute Apps. Actually, I'd love it if Apple allowed software to be installed on iOS from anywhere and then went through their App Store with a machete to chop out the hundreds of tip calculators, digital whoopie cushions, etc. and then became even stricter with what they allowed.

  5. David Says:

    Well, I would love it if Giant carried Count Chocula, but they don't carry everything. Again, I don't have a problem with have these policies. A trusted source vetting the apps means I can install with a high degree of confidence.

    I don't have a problem with Apple's policies because I (and you) do have a choice. Go get an BB. Or an Android. Or an Windows Phone 7. Just as you can go to A&P or PW, you can to to any of those other phones. Either of us can also write the vendor and say "Do better."

    Apple is doing exactly what you said you want, except that blade is getting you in the neck. Can't have it both ways.

    I write software professionally. I own multiple PCs and run VMware on those. I understand about flexibility. However, I want my phone to work. I want to be able to install and remove without sweating the details. We are presented with two stark choices: iPhone and Android.

    Why did you pick Android if you wanted to load anything? I picked the iPhone because that aspect of Android wasn't compelling enough to overcome the other advantages I think the iPhone has:software, ecosystem, etc…

  6. @Jasoco Says:

    Does that include apps like iheartradio that can play many stations part of its network? Or the stand-alone WMMR (93.3FM Philly station) radio app?

  7. JaredNewman Says:

    Sorry if i wasn't clear about this, but the issue here is only with single-station apps. Also, I doubt we'll see a purge of existing apps.

  8. Geoff Says:

    You'd better believe I'd raise holy hell if I ran a radio station and watched Apple approved an app for my local competitor and not my station. FCC, FTC, and whoever else. They have no right to be picking winner and losers in a local competitive radio marketplace.

  9. Shawn Reed Says:

    You could whine like that, or you could choose to be a smart business and emulate the successful actions of your competitors, and perhaps even improve on them. That's actually how capitalism works, and we consumers continue to get better products at similar price levels.

  10. Geoff Says:

    Uh, I must have missed the part in the capitalism textbook where some gatekeeper decides that no one else will be able to compete with the apps that got in under the wire.

    Besides, this is only an issue because of the lack of Flash, which is why you can't just surf to a station's website and click on the Listen Live link.

  11. Shawn Reed Says:

    ah, ok…well, there was a slight misunderstanding there, sorry about that. I thought you were complaining about the last point in the article, where Jared mentioned a proposed system whereby apps that were higher quality apps being let in, while lower quality ones weren't (admittedly, mine wasn't the most reasonable reading of your comment).

    However, dude…point is, if someone got an app in, and you didn't, why not just make yours a better app, and get it in? I do agree that the arbitrariness is frustrating, but this whole app store is a new and highly evolving system; there's got to be decisions made along the way, as apple couldn't have foreseen what would be available and regulate it. That said, there isn't a single gatekeeper…there's a gatekeeper with *apple*, but nobody has to buy an apple phone–there's other options that allow more arbitrary app submissions, and if that's your thing, go right ahead. There's no reason that apple has to do anything in a perfectly fair way.

    My answer, rather than allowing flash (I'm agnostic on that point), is below, where I mentioned having better search capabilities in the app store, so that you could have a wider array of apps in the store w/o having them clog the system with poo.

  12. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Someone should open an alternate app store for iPhone/iPad s/w.

  13. Shawn Reed Says:

    …there is one, but you gotta jailbreak.

  14. Shawn Reed Says:

    These radio station apps could easily be webapps, no? I heard a local station, here in Orlando, advertising that you could go to their website and "install an app on your iphone" to listen to their feed. I have to assume that they were using webapps, or they would have told you to go to the app store. If you want to have an "app" on iphones, make it a webapp. If you want to do stuff that goes beyond the capabilities of webapps, apple can (and probably should) determine and publish what the threshold is, and perhaps even require some sort of proof that people are actually using the initial webapp before allowing an upgraded version.

    That is, however, secondary to the real point: searching the app store absolutely sucks. There needs to be filtering, smarter searches, netflix-type "people like you liked" categories (genius just ain't that, and it's an app-finding failure), etc. Finding apps on the store is very hit or miss, especially from your phone, where I do 99% of my app browsing. Were some better search algorithms in place, it would almost not matter if there were a billion apps crowding the store–you'd find what you were looking for. That doesn't fly contrary to Apple's "walled garden" approach–they can still outright reject an entire category if it's contrary to what they're trying to do–but directions to the peach you want within the garden become much easier to follow.

  15. jltnol Says:

    Well I don't think Apple is doing it's customers much service with this kind of strong armed tatitcs, but, they can do what they like.

    I guess my point is that if the station is streaming it's feed online, then if they were smart, and that's a big IF, they would do so that would allow you to access it from Safari. Include a bookmark, and a few taps and you'd be there.