Entrepreneur to Congress: Apple’s App Store appeals process would make ‘Kafka blush’

Apple's App Store
Apple’s App Store

Technology executives said in a congressional hearing in Boulder, Colorado on Friday that Apple has too much power over the company’s App Store platform, which is the only way for most people to install software on iPhones and iPads.

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The hearing, held by the House Antitrust Subcommittee, is another signal that Washington lawmakers are increasingly scrutinizing big technology companies over power that might not always harm consumers, but can hurt smaller businesses.

The hearing, which focused on Amazon, Facebook, and Google, and at times Apple, also indicates that lawmakers continue to lump big technology antitrust concerns together, despite the fact that the companies operate different marketplaces and face different allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hansson said that anyone who submits applications to the App Store is worried that Apple could reject their app, and that the company’s system of appeals is difficult to navigate.

“All it takes is being assigned the wrong clerk,” Hansson said. “Then you’ll be stuck in an appeals process that would make Kafka blush.”

Hansson was referring to Franz Kafka’s novel “The Trial,” which describes a frustrating, mysterious bureaucracy.

MacDailyNews Take: Great soundbite.

Apple.com’s “App Store” page explains: We created the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. We take responsibility for ensuring that apps are held to a high standard for privacy, security, and content because nothing is more important than maintaining the trust of our users.

We created the App Store Review Guidelines to provide clear guidance to developers on building the best apps for our customers. The five pillars of the guidelines — Safety, Performance, Business, Design, and Legal — require that apps offered on the App Store are safe, provide a good user experience, adhere to our rules on user privacy, secure devices from malware and threats, and use approved business models.

Read more here.

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines are here.

22 Comments

  1. Addressing the investigations in general:

    1) Apple is not the only phone maker. Apple has only 20% market share.
    You can make phone calls, load apps, get 911, do internet etc on other phones. Consumers don’t have lack of choice. Developers can make products for those other phones.
    Apple is not a monopoly.

    having ONE phone iPhone a walled garden unlike the other 400 phone makers actually INCREASES consumer choice.

    2) For decades already stores have ‘HOUSE BRANDS’. Walmart , Target etc all have house brands.

    Tile is complaining about Apple trying to build a similar product. So what about all those Ketchup companies trying to compete against a Giant Groceries ‘house brand Ketchup’?
    Walmart even makes house branded clothing, furniture etc.

    Personally I think the only reason Apple is there is because of the Click Bait Publicity.

    FYI in some Giant Box stores you sometimes have to PAY for good shelf space (eye level etc)
    Imagine Apple ranking your app higher if you pay them…

    3) THIRD PARTY STORES

    If Government foolishly mandates 3rd party stores, apps that you might use regularly might move completely out of the App Store . Outside they can load all kinds of malware and tracking software

    (go look at the toxic hell stew of Android. Huawei CEO says it’s top execs use Apple products. Huawei CFO caught in Vancouver had an iPhone 7, a Macbook and an iPad. She won’t trust Huawei financial info on Android phones or tablets even made by Huawei . Note the argument that the CFO had an iPhone 7 to ‘study’ is ridiculous. Won’t she have an iPhone X which was out then for months? When out on Bail she requested her Apple gear back ‘for work’. FYI copies of her drive had been made, unread and sealed by court )

    Even mighty Facebook was taken to task by Apple when it was found illegally tracking teenagers.
    Imagine apps like this moving completely out of Apple into third party stores, no more checks on surveillance etc. (Trusting ‘government’ to do this is a joke).

    And some apps you HAVE to use for example many businesses absolutely need Facebook etc.

    For people who give example of Mac having third party stores, note Tracking and other malware today is WAY more sophisticated than when the Mac came out decades ago. AI driven malware can be lethal (example AI can monitor countless phones simultaneously)

    4) Piracy.

    What do so many developers like iOS, one big reason is piracy on Android.
    Read some developers blogs, on Android 90% of their app installed on phones are pirate versions.
    With third party stores there is no way or very hard for Average Consumers to determine which is a pirate.

    Imagine if you use Messaging App ‘ABC’. Imagine if the person you are responding to is using PIRATED ‘ABC’. You can have all kinds of sh!t downloaded onto your phone. (Again ask Toxic Hellstew Android).

    Developers also lose money and very quickly the eco-system is compromised.

    I can give many more reasons why I like the walled garden but my post is long already.

    1. 1) Apple is the sole approver and exclusive and mandatory channel for iOS applications…. proiperty which Apple does not own. If they purchased the application outright so as to make it their property, you would be correct.

      Apple does not own the devices on which these applications run. Apple locks the owners of these devices into an exclusive relationship for applications. There is no competition, and no sales is final, in the sense of being able to disassociate. Locked in.

      Apple can stifle innovation by such practices. This does not mean that there aren’t innovative Apple, but with clauses such as those that forbid “Duplicating Functionality”. This forbids competing on device improvements.

      If there were other stores, then you would also be correct.

      2) Already discussed elsewhere. Apple has an unfair advantage in competing with others in it’s ecosystem.

      3) Third party stores…. Don’t shop there. This argument is as invalid as the one objecting to a TV channel’s content. Change the channel, or don’t. The user should be the judge, and if they want the perceived safety of Apple App Store only, hey they can choose that.

      You could also write an App for that, and distribute it as you wish…

      4) Piracy…
      Hmmm. Hard one. Adults and owners of machines need to be careful. Again, the option to stay App Store Only remains. Not going to accept censorship in the name of protecting against piracy.

      1. 1) When you buy the device you are already know Apple rules. Otherwise don’t buy.

        Just like when you buy a house with a Strata title, you own the house but you agreed to abide by rules. You can’t do anything you want.

        The apps also run on iOS and if you read Apple license agreement you don’t ‘own’ iOS but license it with conditions.

        By all means you can ‘jail break ‘ your phone and load stuff but then you void the license agreement and Apple makes no promises that your phone will then work.

        “If there were other stores, then you would also be correct”
        There are other Phones. Apple is no way a monopoly in the ‘phone category’.
        Once again you bought the phone with eyes wide open. Otherwise don’t buy.

        2) “unfair advantage”
        As our usual exchanges you don’t read what I wrote.
        for DECADES already stores like walmart, Target etc have house brands , and you can say they have ‘unfair’ advantages because Walmart has insider information on what their plans on the future are, they decide product placement, advertising etc. Shoot some big box stores can stop selling your product if it competes with theirs. ETC.

        Why hasn’t the government fought against such ‘house brands’ ?
        They don’t because the stores belong to the corporation.

        Don’t like it don’t develop for Apple . There are hundreds of other phones out there for developers. Apple is only 20% of the market.

        (Note Apple say it makes no money from majority of the third party apps in their store. they don’t take a cut from in app advertising etc )

        3) you use “TV channel ” as an example of your argument. You realize that when you get HBO you might not get Disney shows on it right?

        “Third party stores…. Don’t shop there”
        Again you don’t read what I wrote : Suppose apps that you need to use moves out of Apple’s and into third party. Like some Businesses need Facebook like I said. You have no choice.
        Secondly when other iPhone uses get compromised apps from third party stores and they interact with you you might get malware.

        Further note on Third Party Stores.
        Here an Excerpt from Symantec the ‘Norton Anti Virus’ maker on third party stores.

        “Third-party app stores may not apply the same level of scrutiny toward the apps they allow to be listed in their app stores. Still, it can get tricky. Third-party app stores might offer plenty of safe applications. But there’s also a higher chance they might offer dangerous ones.

        And those apps can infect your mobile device with malicious codes like ransomware and adware. That’s because the ads or codes can be “injected” into popular apps you might buy through a third-party store.”

        ACCORDINT TO NOKIA’S ‘THREAT INTELLIGENCE REPORT’ ANDROID IS FIFTY TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE INFECTED BY MALWARE THAN IOS.
        note Android’s Market share is only FOUR times iOS. so the ‘market share’ argument of Android prevalence is discounted. (Also don’t you think malware creators would rather target ‘richer’ iOS users ?)

        AndroidCentral says that if you Android is infected you might have to do factory reset and Wipe out all you data. And even Flash the ROM. Then it ends it advice: “Going through the pain of a factory reset then finding out that some malware is written to the system files and not your user data means you did everything in vain”. They have no solution after that.

        Laughably many Android malware detectors are THEMSELVES malware ….

        No out of hundreds of phones out there I want one wall garden. The difference of iOS INCREASES consumer choice.

        1. 1) When you buy a device it is your property and Apple’s rules are non-binding. Remember when Apple tried to make jailbreaking illegal and failed? I have license to use, and modify my singular copy of iOS, but no right to sell copies of it.

          So this one is patently false, it’s your will, not the law.

          2) Yes, unfair advantage. Does Walmart tell you that you can’t sell in Target? Does the coding of your product rely on APIs of Apple? If you’re saying that Apple is entitled to such advantages, you are proving not only my case, but the plaintiff’s as well.

          3) No but my TV will play both Disney and HBO shows if I choose to get them, it’s not tied to any one network.

          4) Third Party Stores
          Are you going to tell me that MS needs Apple for a store? They already have a store. Same for Adobe, and many many others. Apple is not the only trustworthy store in town, it’s just that the other’s are locked out.

          IT’S MY RISK TO TAKE!

          1. As usual you do t read what I wrote.

            I didn’t say Apple made jailbreaking illegal. I said they didn’t have to support it. If you ‘modify’ it so that it screws up the function of your phone it’s up to you.

            As on the issues of jailbreaking (and the supposed wonderful advantages of open system) I let others make the point:

            NordVPN on issues of iPhone jailbreaking:

            “Malware. Yeah, customized apps and games are great, but if you decide to download them from a random website, you’re likely to get malware on your phone. None of the apps outside of the store were screened or approved. Some of them may have failed Apple’s terms due to their technical settings or even for being malicious malware.

            Crashes and stability issues. Even a small change to a vital setting can damage your phone. Various customizations can also slow down your phone or even drain your battery. Although there are plenty of performance management apps available for jailbroken iPhones, why expose it to that risk in the first place?

            Data breaches. In 2015, security pros at Palo Alto Software reported a major breach that resulted in the theft of more than 225,000 jailbreakers’ data. The affected users had downloaded an app called KeyRaider from Cydia, a special platform for jailbroken devices. That’s not to mention potential breaches of the data your new jailbroken apps might collect.Data breaches are growing more and more common.

            Being ditched by Apple or your carrier. Do you think you’re better off alone? When you jailbreak your phone, you void its warranty. Neither Apple nor your carrier will agree to fix any issues with a jailbroken phone. If anyone will accept it for a repair, it won’t be free.“

            (. )

            YEP Go ahead. As you’ve said countless times ‘it’s MY Phone’

            2) what the heck are you talking about?
            ‘Walmart doesn’t tell you what you can sell at target’ isn’t anywhere near my argument.
            What I’m saying is suppliers can’t tell Walmart what they can sell and Walmart sells house brands which are similar to Apple apps.

            3) i actually had an old Tv that can’t hook up cable or satellite. So I can’t get HBO or Disney. Am I going to moan about the manufacturers fault?
            What is your point?

            Mine is: Each product is limited to what the manufacturer decides. You buy with eyes wide open. My gas car can’t run electric. Tough luck.

            One more time you want iOS to be similar To Android go buy an Android.

            4) I’ve already answered about third party stores.
            You can’t escape the facts of rampant malware. As I quoted Nokia says android fifty times worse than iOS. You’ve not answered why is that?
            There are hundreds of thousands of developers, how many have the resources of MS and Adobe. Even for them it’s a constant fight against pirate versions in third party stores. One solution they found is the hated ‘cloud subscription’ ….

            Making iOS like android reduces choice.

            1. A cynic

              LOL Nobody is forcing you to buy an iPhone either

              You are the one who hates the iPhone system so why stick around?

              I’m happy with the system and don’t want my relatively safe wall garden broke.
              You who don’t like it and want an Android like Toxic Hellstew open system Go Buy an Android.

              (Tesla doesn’t want to build gas cars. So by their ‘singular’ power type you’re going to argue Tesla doesn’t provide enough choice? You going to moan you can’t load the fuel of your choice?)

              By having a safe private store Apple differentiates iPhone from hundreds of other phones so it increases choice.

            2. @Davewrite

              “By having a safe private store Apple differentiates iPhone from hundreds of other phones so it increases choice.”

              That is a truly distorted reality. Stay at the private store for yourself, why do you, Davewrite, want me locked in? Apple could sell what they want in their store, I shouldn’t be forced in an exclusive relationship with them for Apps. It’s censorship.

              Meanwhile, your entire argument is invalidated by the 10 year existence of jailbreaking. All your fears exist now, yet you seem calm.

              I have every right to buy an iOS device and use it as I wish within the law.
              Since the platform is available to third party development, Apple must compete for Apps on a level playing field.

              -You did not answer the MS and Adobe question, you glazed it. Other developers would have the choice of an online retailer, building their own store, or even emailing their Apps to customers directly. Or not. That’s choice!

              -I answered about piracy, same answer for malware. Get software from trusted sources. Now let me ask you… do you not use the Web for fear of being tracked, phished, or otherwise hoodwinked? Do you cross the street in body armor? That would be your right, and you can.

              -And to clear up my Target/Walmart comment who’s meaning seems to have escaped you… You CAN get many of the same items at Target, Walmart, or any number of stores willing to carry an item. But your Walmart purchased shoes don’t force you to only walk to Walmart.

              -The car analogy was weak. The electricity is not produced by Tesla. ALl Tesla controls is the plug.

            3. A cynic

              Lol

              I’ve quoted numerous studies from other sources on the dangers you have none, just your opinion.

              Here’s another:

              FORBES:

              Android malware rose from 238 threats in 2012 to 804 new threats in 2013. What was the combined total of new threats for Apple AAPL +0% iOS, BlackBerry OS and Microsoft MSFT +0% Windows Phone in that time? Zero. The remaining 3% came from Nokia ’s axed Symbian platform.”

              Every study shows the open system less secure.
              Your unsupported opinion vs the facts You can’t explain it away. You keep saying “it’s just as safe, it’s just as safe”. But I show you reports from Symantec , Nokia’s quarterly threat report , NORDVPN. and here Forbes…

              There it rests.

            4. Acynic

              I had to add this because logic seems to defy you.

              You said “Meanwhile, your entire argument is invalidated by the 10 year existence of jailbreaking. All your fears exist now, yet you seem calm.”

              What are you talking about?
              Today MOST apps, almost all the crucial ones are only available on the app store. With third party stores who knows? This is completely different from jailbreaking

              As I’ve ALREADY said numerous times (and you keep skipping over due to blinders or lack of comprehension), even giant Facebook was doing something unsavoury (tracking teenagers) and GOT STOPPED BY APPLE at the App Store level. Everyone was shocked when Apple dared to freeze Facebook’s app.

              If Facebook and thousands of Apps that you might need (and I pointed out many businesses need Facebook) leave the App store and go to third party stores the situation would be completely different than jailbreaking today. It’ll be worse. Who will vet them for tracking etc ? (The government who is clueless enough to fight for ‘backdoors’ i.e ‘hacker come in holes’ in devices? They are going to properly vet hundreds of thousands of apps and updates etc ? In stores maybe located in Eastern Europe or Russia ? )

              You keep saying ‘don’t buy from third party stores, it’s your choice’ and I keep saying if giant apps like Facebook move out, maybe for many people there is no choice. And if there are pirate versions as in android where some developers say pirate versions can outnumber legit by 10 to one, you are screwed.

              (Open systems like Android as I’ve quoted from studies from Norton, Nokia, NordVPN etc above are simply more vulnerable. You’ve shown no data otherwise).

              BOTTOM LINE:
              I want to keep the iOS platform as is as I think its GOOD. You think it’s BAD and want to radically change it , you think it should be open like Toxic Hellstew Android, so if you’re having such a horrible time with iOS by all means GO. So simple.

            5. @Davewite
              Malware, blah, blah, blah…
              It’s a reality. Yes! No one says otherwise.

              And it’s utterly disingenuous to use malware as an excuse to censor. I wouldn’t tolerate it from my government, I certainly won’t tolerate it from a corporation.

              As far as Facebook goes, I agree. Separate issue.

              I’m trying to explain to you that your yearning for perceived safety, as exists today, and my yearning for no censorship via alternate stores are not mutually exclusive. No references needed. It is you and your ilk that are restricting and censoring. Not me.

  2. Yea, go to any retail store, and make some demands where your product should go. Macys. Shoprite. 7/11. YOU do not dictate how the store sells what they sell. Don’t like it, go sell to 4x the audience over on Android.

    You want to control how a store sells. Make your own OS. Make your own store. This is noise.

      1. I’ve never met anyone as deluded as applecynic. By sheer will of force he thinks he can be right, but it’s just like motivating an eediyote in the hopes of waking them up and educating them – all you sadly end up with instead is a motivated eediyote.

        It’s sad. Thank God for freedom of speech, though, it allows eediyotes like applenuksukkle to advertise his stewpidity to all – the greatest proof of the statement that it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than it is to open one’s mouth and confirm it for all to hear.

        Applecynic – thinks he’s the one, when he’s the none. Nones on the running their mouth off… sad sad sad.

        1. So deluded that you would think that there’s an imaginary congressional investigation going on, as well as anti-trust cases against Apple. Deluded must mean non reality distorted.

          On the freedom of Speech front…
          I want to code an iOS App that says Jobs was an jerk, say a dunk the Jobs in a barrel of Shaving Cream game. How can I distribute it?

          You’re the deluded fool that dares mention freedom of speech.

  3. Just imagine, a top level engineer who understands the complex logic of code but can’t comprehend and follow the stipulations in the agreement.

  4. Here is a weird option for consumers – if they don’t like the App Store and the way Apple does things … shocker, you don’t have to buy an iPad or iPhone.

    I know, crazy right? In fact, you can go buy any number of Android devices out there and do whatever the heck you want.

    It’s called choice. Concept for those not into liberty and freedom I know. But Apple does not have even close to a market monopoly in any market they play in, thus, their locked little ecosystem threatens and stifles no one anywhere anytime. Don’t like it, do something else.

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