Must Read: Diary of An iPhone App Store Reviewer

John Gruber wrote an absolutely hilarious blog post faking the diary of an App Store reviewer. It is a very sarcastic post showing the stupidity of the system. While it is pure fiction, you can’t help realizing that Gruber is very close to reality, mostly on the app approval rejection process.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of the post:

Wednesday May 13

Began examining some game submitted a week or two ago. Slick UI, kind of fun to play. But: one of the help screen images shows a little icon representing an iPhone. Rejected the app with this message:

Thank you for submitting [app name] to the App Store. We’ve reviewed [app name] and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because of an Apple trademark image. Rule 2 under “Unauthorized Use of Apple Trademarks” in Apple’s Copyright and Trademark Guidelines states:

“You may not use the Apple Logo or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, promotional/advertising materials, or for any other purpose except pursuant to an express written trademark license from Apple, such as a reseller agreement.”

Monday May 18

The dude who wrote that game with the iPhone icon seems very upset. Says that the iPhone image is used to explain that the user must tilt the device in order to play the game, and so how can he show this visually without using an image of an iPhone. And he has a list of other apps already in the Store which use similar graphics. I reply with the exact same message as last week, word for word. Spend the rest of the day playing Flight Control.

Tuesday May 19

Like the other guy this week, the one with the game with the icon that looks like an iPhone, which, he persuasively argues, doesn’t seem to even violate the cited guideline regarding Apple-owned graphic symbols and logos insofar as that he commissioned an original graphic from an icon artist, and, further, that numerous other apps already in the Store, including several which his would compete directly against, include similar representations of an iPhone. I know this already, because I approved several of those apps myself. I did this deliberately, knowing that if there were, say, two well-known apps available in the Store which violate this dubious (to say the least) interpretation of Apple’s copyright guidelines, it would be far more satisfying to reject only the third such app than it would have been to reject all three.

Rejecting all of them, consistently, would in fact be no good at all. The feeling of being part of the monolith — of being the monolith — really only surges when I use my position to act capriciously.

To act fairly would be to follow the rules. To act capriciously is to be the rules.

Thursday May 21

The developer of the game submitted a new version where the icon representing the iPhone has been replaced by a simple rectangle. I reject it again on the same copyright violation grounds.

Friday May 22

Game developer writes back, arguing that it is “just a rectangle” and “Apple has no copyright on rectangles”. He wrote, “If anything, I’m concerned that users won’t even recognize it as an iPhone.”

I reject it again, with the following explanation:

Thank you for submitting [app name] to the App Store. We’ve reviewed [app name] and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains a graphical device representation that is not recognizable as an iPhone or iPod touch.

I should have let it sit for a week, I know, but I couldn’t help myself.

This is just too funny. I invite you to visit John’s blog to read the full post. It’s classic!