Apple’s Phil Schiller defends iPhone App Store approval process

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac “In his first extensive interview on the subject, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice-president for worldwide product marketing, outlines the many reasons Apple keeps close tabs on which applications can be downloaded onto the iPhone and iPod Touch. He also outlined ways the company is trying to become more flexible in its approval process,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek. “‘We’ve built a store for the most part that people can trust,’ he says. ‘You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you’d expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works.'”

Hesseldahl reports, “The number of applications available at the App Store is now north of 100,000, and about 10,000 are submitted each week. As the volume rises, so does the number of potential problems. Schiller compares Apple’s role to that of a retailer determining which products line store shelves.”

“The iPhone has been on the market only 28 months. Users take them everywhere and are quickly inserting them into daily life in ways the personal computer never could have fit. Malware on smartphones could do significantly more damage than malware on a PC,” Hesseldahl writes. “Imagine a nasty application that records every word you speak—both on and off the phone—without your knowledge, and then e-mails the audio to a stranger. Or picture one that surreptitiously tracks your movements and sends them to a stalker.”

Hesseldahl writes, “There may come a time when Apple finds it no longer needs to play such a comprehensive a role as app approver. Apple has shown a willingness to let its app approval process evolve. But today, with smartphones permeating our lives and going everywhere we go, it makes a good deal of sense to have someone keeping a close eye on what those apps do. At least for now.

Full article here.

In a related article today, AppleInsider’s Katie Marsal reports on a malicious worm that attacks and steals data from jailbroken iPhones. Read the full article here.


  1. Makes sense. The approval process can be a pain, but it is smoothing out, and it does guarantee that someone reviewed the app you downloaded to make sure it doesn’t do anything harmful.

  2. Read the full article, seems like a reasonably balanced and realistic approach to me. As long as Apple knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and are working to make things better for the developers (which it sounds like they’re continuing to do).

    Philosophical objections aside, the malicious worm stealing data from jailbroken iPhones shows that Apple is right to take a stronger role in making sure this brave new smartphone world doesn’t turn into the Windows security nightmare.

  3. It’s funny to see how much people are willing to give advice to apple, most of them is people (so called “Analyst”) about how to run business.

    It took 6 years to microsoft to have 18k applications for the WinMo platform, and only 6 months to Apple to have 85k apps in the app store. So they must be doing something real good.

  4. Wow. Schiller has a point on malicious content. However, “inappropriate content” is simply offensive in itself. Looks like Apple is leaning the way of Walmart and Blockbuster with their censorship.. I am actually surprised that they don’t bleep out foul language. I have one word for Apple: Ratings! They do it with music and movies, why not apps?

  5. @Dandy, ratings are likely not to be as effective on iPhones as they may (or may not) be elsewhere. If Apple is compared to a storefront retailer, Walmart is not likely to see (as one example) porn. Are people screaming at Walmart because they can’t buy hard core porn there? Why would you then not consider Apple in the same way?

  6. Apple does not really think there is any serious problem with their app approval / rejection process which itself is a very worrying problem because it is utterly broken.

    They treat it like it’s a hobby leaving developers out to dry after large amounts of fruitless work.

    1. Terrible communication with devs after a rejection.
    2. Arbitrary, random, inconsistant, and embarassing rejections like a censored dictionary app Ninja Words that got a 17 rating when other dictionary apps could view the same words, not to mention Safari.
    3. Long delays at releasing updated versions of already approved apps with minor changes.
    4. Secrets lists of reasons to reject apps revealed only after a dev does the hard work and subs an app, or more likely never revealed.

    The list could go on and on. Apple had not a scrap of respect for iPhone devs, treating them like dirt, the app store approval process is a joke. The only reason it has not completely collapsed is because other mobile platforms are horrendous embarassments.

    This situation could be fixed with most people happy about it if Apple saw it as a priority to do so, and really say down with some devs and listened to them, but they really don’t care and treat it like a PR problem. Quite sad and embarassing. They should be fixing the problem not trying to find a way to put better spin on it.

    They treat the devs on the App store with about the same care and concern as their enterprise strategy, or even worse.

  7. Agreed. Ever since joining up with the iPhone dev program it’s been like seeing the dark side of Apple. Nothing at the developer end comes close to the finesse of the consumer-facing side, and actually it’s significantly diminished my enthusiasm for the brand 🙁

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