Russia has already sanctioned Apple for its capricious behaviour towards App Store developers, and now the world’s 3rd largest economy has also joined in on the pile on.
Developers in Japan are not as concerned about the 30% revenue share, but rather about how Apple treats iPhone developers.
“Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational,” said Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory Inc., which offers a service designed to help navigate Apple’s app approval process. “Apple’s response to developers is often curt and boilerplate, but even with that, you must be polite on many occasions, like a servant asking the master what he wants next.”
Some developers feel Apple can delay app updates on purpose to punish developers.
“While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item’s in the review queue or they intentionally keep it untouched as a sanction to a developer giving them the wrong attitude,” said Shoji.
Apple is also often inconsistent. Several game studios reported having characters that were approved on the interpretation they were dressed in swimsuits, then later rejected on the judgment that they were in underwear and thus sexualized. One developer who had implemented an in-game system that Apple approved, later saw the same code rejected by the App Store operator in a subsequent game.
Another developer complained that they checked their game’s revenue-making strategy with Apple several times before release, making sure Apple gave the go-ahead. Weeks after the app launched, the Apple changed its stance, saying the developer should take the function out of the app or the app’s distribution would be terminated, according to the consultant.
“Apple is a sheriff who sometimes makes unfair interpretations of the guidelines for its own benefit,” said Tokyo-based games consultant Hisakazu Hirabayashi.
Developers report Google’s approval process is much less problematic, and they laud Epic Games for taking a stand against Apple.
“I want from the bottom of my heart Epic to win,” Hironao Kunimitsu, founder and chairman of Tokyo-based mobile game maker Gumi Inc., wrote on his Facebook page.
Thankfully, given Apple’s propensity to retaliate, they are not standing alone. Japan’s antitrust regulator said it will step up attention to the iPhone maker’s practices, and while Apple could easily ignore Russian regulators, with 702,000 developers and more than $37 billion in app sales Japanese rulings may bite a bit harder.