Oh, Apple. Every time I think you’ve got your shit together regarding the App Store and not being jerks regarding blocking apps that supposedly ‘confuse’ users, you start being jerks. As reported by TechCrunch, your latest guidelines are worthy of a headdesk:
Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.
Note that this isn’t stopping people advertising apps within their own apps in the annoying way that pisses off users (like those wonderful splash screens for an entirely different app when you launch an app), but instead potentially stopping people providing apps that curate the App Store, in a way that’s actually useful to users.
Recent changes to the App Store have improved things a little on iOS devices, at least in terms of navigation. But Apple still relies heavily on charts (i.e. what’s popular rather than what’s actually worth buying), and those reviews that do lurk within app pages have about as much collective worth as the mutant offspring of Amazon product reviews and YouTube comments.
To be fair, Apple does at least attempt curation itself. Beyond the charts, there are new & noteworthy sections, along with app- and genre-specific collections that might help someone look further afield. But these are often arbitrary (it boggles the mind, for example, that no Llamasoft game has ever been displayed within one of Apple’s retrogaming collections) and, of course, they don’t have the value of third-party objectivity. It’s the equivalent of a music store providing their selection of what is worth buying, rather than a music review site, magazine or app doing the same.
It remains to be seen which apps will be effectively banned by Apple due to this rule, or whether, as AppGratis CEO Simon Dawlat optimistically opines, Apple will just shoot low-end copycats (PocketGamer.biz). But if Apple does simply tear down a sub-section of apps, those that assist users in buying great apps, and those that often drive traffic to indies, that won’t benefit App Store users, nor, in the long run, will it really benefit Apple.
Further reading: Who controls the App store? by Xiotex Studios.