Operator app stores: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear
We're having an interesting experience at the moment with "operator app stores". We've submitted our Guardian Anywhere app to a couple of them. It's a fairly popular app: 60,000+ downloads, 4.5 star rating, 27,280 active installs and well over 2 million copies of the Guardian delivered through it.
I won't name names. Let's call the operators concerned A and B.
Initial reaction from A when we submitted the app was to reject it, because A can (I quote) "already supply news feeds through its own and third-party services and there is no additional requirement for these type of products".
We've since resubmitted it to A, through their portal which they're using to liaise with folks like ourselves. We submitted it on 30th March, and their site says it should go through in 10 working days. As of the end of May, it wasn't live and the folks at A weren't able to say when it might be (the connection their UK application shop wasn't "live").
Operator B, on the other hand, rejected our submission "due to your app containing ads or links of any sort, which is currently prohibited for applications held within B's app store". I'm still picking pieces of my jaw off my desk.
We have no advertising or other revenue tied to this product - I'm not moaning because we're out of pocket, and my interest in getting this sort of distribution is purely to compare operator app stores to the Android Marketplace.
But it feels like operators are repeating mistakes they should've learned from 5 years ago, and aren't learning from the success of app stores. Launching through them is a cumbersome process with hefty manual reviews and curation. Even a manual review process from Apple doesn't take 3 months, reject your app for containing links, or say "no thanks" because they already have an app in your category.
Update: I've been working on mobile so long that I'm quite bored of operator-bashing. After seeing quite a few folks pick up on this and get busy kicking the operators, I thought I'd try and be a bit more constructive.
I think it all comes down to clear communication: anyone distributing apps should say, clearly and concisely, in a single place, what their standards for accepting and rejecting apps are; what apps they are and aren't interested in; and what their timescales for launch will really be. And then stick to them.