Is Apple Wrong for Breaking Its Own App Store Rules?


Apple released an app dedicated to showcasing iAd campaigns from key advertising partners Tuesday, and a blog post at inneractive points out that Apple (s aapl) reportedly rejected a similar app from a third-party developer (called Ads Tube) intended for release around the launch of iAds. Many also point out that Apple’s new app is in violation of its own guidelines governing the approval of titles for release in the App Store. Specifically, guideline 2.13 states that “apps that are primarily marketing materials or advertisements will be rejected.”

Leaving aside the fact that movie tie-in apps are almost all “primarily marketing materials or advertisements,” did Apple do anything wrong in rejecting an iAds showcase app and then releasing its own? No, for a few very simple reasons:

  1. Apple is often exempt from its own rules. For example, it’s allowed to access APIs that other developers don’t have access to. Try finding a third-party app that plugs into Find My iPhone and you’ll come up empty-handed.
  2. Apple has a responsibility to advertisers regarding the use of iAds. If they were presented in a way that a brand might perceive as damaging in the third-party showcase app, that could be very bad for Apple’s advertising relationships.
  3. We don’t know the full story behind Apple’s rejection of Ads Tube. There could be other reasons behind its dismissal, and even if there aren’t, it’s still in violation of Apple’s App Review Guidelines, to which Apple itself is exempt (as mentioned above).

Before waving a finger at Apple, consider that by rejecting the Ads Tube ad it was enforcing a policy that keeps a lot of spam out of the App Store, and also that in releasing a similar app itself, it provides a solid, dependable experience that offers the same functionality from a known and trusted source. The specific developer behind Ads Tube may not have intended anything malicious with the app, but if I’m going to be using an app designed solely around marketing, I’d rather it comes from a company I trust than someone I know nothing about.


Opa Bokma

The discussion might not have to be about “can apple do this” but more about “who on earth would be interested in an app about ads?”. That’s like watching an ad-only channel on TV, or reading an ad-only newspaper.
Ads may be beautifully designed and sometimes original, they’re still ads. Their primary function should be to be as unobtrusive as possible. That’s kind of hard to achieve when an app is ONLY about ads.
We , the people, can still give a 1-star rating of course!


It’s the Golden Rule…The guy with the gold rules. Check out my new phone app coming to the App Store next week. MultiSnooze. MultiSnooze allows you to tap the snooze button multiple times right when you get up so that you can sleep for multiple snooze sessions without interruption. You snooze you win.


Apple can advertise (or reject as advertising) whatever they want in THEIR store. Just like any other business can. No news here.


Yes it would be better that Apple provides the app because it would be more secure, but it is up to the user to purchase the app or download the app. I think the market should decide and not Apple. In addition, they should be exempted by the rules because then it becomes about the company and not the user, something which goes against Apple’s main image.

Mike Perry

You said: “… that in releasing a similar app itself, it provides a solid, dependable experience that offers the same functionality from a known and trusted source…. if I’m going to be using an app designed solely around marketing, I’d rather it comes from a company I trust than someone I know nothing about.”

When it comes to app approval, we know a lot about Apple. We know that it can be arbitrary, capricious and even downright weird. In this case, I suspect Apple’s counting on ad hits from this app as advertising income solely for itself. Someone else’s app, were it to do exactly the same thing, would give its developer a cut. Excuse me, but I think that’s simple greed as a motivation, not something usually linked with “trust” in the minds of most.

And if the muddled subscription charge scheme proves to be what some suspect it is, we can slap a still larger label of “greedy” to the criteria behind Apple’s app approval process. Apple will be grabbing 30% of retail (the entire markup for most retail businesses), while providing little more that credit card processing via iTunes (a 3% service). And even if that doesn’t prove true, the present Apple-engendered confusion about this matter is an intolerable and indefensible burden on small app developers and cash-poor students trying to decide if they should buy a Kindle. This isn’t a clever new gadget. If Apple has plans in this area, let them speak clearly and unambiguously.

And for those who wonder, I’m a capitalist and not a communist. But my definition of capitalism is like that Churchill offered for democracy, “the worst form of government but for all the rest.” Like democracy, capitalism only works if you hold corporate executives toes to the fire. Apple is no exception.

Apple has the typical ethos of many giant corporations, and its policies are remarkably parallel to theirs over the past two decades. Apple has made a small number of people extraordinarily rich, while at the same time exporting jobs by the tens of thousands to wherever the labor is cheapest. Call it the global sweat shop. The robber barons of a century ago at least hired locally.

Steve Jobs may be eager to sell iPads to those who live in our Rust Belt, but he doesn’t lie at wake at night pondering how to bring good-paying, Apple manufacturing jobs to those same people. That’s why my iPhone is labeled “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” There’s no “Made in the USA,” because because the USA simply doesn’t matter to the powers that be at Apple. In that, Job is rather typical. No one I am aware with wealth and importance in the Silicon Valley cares much about the people who live in “fly-over country.”

G. K. Chesterton was right when he said, and I quote from memory, that a cosmopolitan was someone who “loved every country but his own.” These people are cosmopolitans in just that sense. Chesterton would add that a man who doesn’t love his own doesn’t love at all.

–Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace

Opa Bokma

Although I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, I don’t blame Apple for outsourcing their manual labor. In today’s economy, that’s the only way to compete. iPads would cost thousands of dollars if they were produced and assembled entirely in the US. Paying Steve Jobs the same salary as any other worker could never compensate for that.


I agree with you.

The odd thing about digital stores is that people think the owners should not control inventory — like every other store on the planet does. Every store selects what it will and will not sell. Sometimes they reject a product and accept a similar or the same one later; especially if it is a product produced by the same company. The AppStore is no different.

Apple obviously wants to promote iAds. It is revenue stream for them. If this app hurts their business, expect it to disappear. (See twitter for iPhone trending bar) If not it is here to stay.


No, Apple should not be able to violate the rules of the App Store that everyone else is forced to follow. The only exception woud be for Apps that are really part of the OS (Settings for example).

Why is it that Apple fans are so willing to jump to Apples defense? Come on!

You know, Microsoft did something like this a few yeas back and everyone (including Apple people) screamed “unfair”. How about holding Apple to that same standard?

Blindly coming to Apple defense and every matter doesn’t make them a better company. Part of the job of the press is to keep Apple and other companies honest, not be mindless extensions of their PR departments.

Call Apple on their bulls**t and they will be a better company for it.



is apple wrong?

do they have to be right?
it’s their sandbox, so they can do what they want.


Junky tech writing puff pieces.

Apple runs the show. Is this news to you?


some of your articles are interesting but you have got to be the most biased apple writer.

Have you ever written an article “Is apple wrong…?” and concluded that apple is wrong?

I think the argument that “apple can do what it bloody well wants cos it’s its app store” can make sens. But trying to justify that this crappy app merits a place in the appstore is pretty ridiculous.

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