Last week, Apple marketing honcho Phil Schiller dropped a note to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber on issues with iPhone app acceptance. It said, basically, that Apple isn’t perfect, but its intentions are good and it tries to learn from its mistakes. The e-mail didn’t resolve any outstanding issues, but it was encouraging to hear an acknowledgment that problems existed and Apple intended to do better.
Now Schiller has been heard from again: He e-mailed Mac developer Steven Frank, who is so disgruntled with Apple’s iPhone policies and practices that he’s boycotting the phone. Schiller told Frank that Apple’s listening to his feedback, and that rumors of a sweeping ban on iPhone e-book readers were false.
Strangely enough, I somehow forgot that I engaged in a conversation about iPhone App Store approval with Phil Schiller myself. Back at the iPhone 3.0 special event in March, I asked him a question during the Q&A about the controversy over app approval–which hadn’t yet peaked–and what Apple’s response was. Here’s Brian X. Chen’s liveblog summary from Wired News:
Harry McCracken asks if Apple will give developers clarity about what apps get approved or rejected.
Phil Schiller says, we have a lot of apps, we also want customers to feel comfortable about the quality of the apps they get. 96% approval rating is tremendous. There are some things we need to check and filter for. Simply that it technically works well.
That things don’t crash. Other things: we watch for profanity in applications. pornography. Things that try to violate a customer’s privacy. Those are things customers want us to watch out for. That’s in the developer’s agreement. There’s also stuff about content suitable for children. Parental controls will help manage that.
At the end of the day with 25,000 apps we have a great solution that’s working and we’re constantly making it better.
Basically, Schiller was courteous and made some reasonable points, but didn’t even address the controversy enough to sound defensive about it. His response now is quite different. The best way to judge Apple’s intentions is, of course, through its actions–let’s hope that the Schillergrams hint are a sign of things to come.