Former App Store review chief discusses process, says concerned about competition with App...

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In an interview published on Tuesday, Apple's former senior director of App Store Review Phillip Shoemaker provided rare insight into the company's process for approving third-party apps, and expressed concerns over increasing competition with Apple's own software.




Speaking with Bloomberg, Shoemaker, who worked as Apple's head app regulator 2009 to 2016, outlined the beginnings of Apple's App Store review process, saying SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller mandated that humans put eyes on incoming apps instead of relying algorithms and automated tools.

Initially, the company tasked three reviewers to each app, but the time-consuming procedure ultimately gave way to a one person, one app method.

Even with humans gatekeepers, however, Shoemaker said, "There's a lot of stuff in the store that shouldn't be there."

Early on, reviewers working in conference rooms would come in each morning, select 30 to 100 apps and download them to Mac, iPhone and iPad for evaluation. The review team has grown and now rates work spaces that are larger and more collaborative, the report said.

Shoemaker adopted an egalitarian view of the approval process, putting independent app makers on the same tier as industry heavyweights like Google and Facebook. Whether small apps received equal prioritization in the review queue is unknown.

That said, Apple has in the past denied apps -- at least temporarily -- that posed competition for first-party services. In 2009, for example, Apple blocked Google Voice entry to the App Store, a move that prompted an investigation by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

According to Shoemaker, Apple was concerned that competitors would create a host of apps designed to replace core iPhone functionality.

"That was a real thing. I mean the fear that somebody would come along, a Facebook, a Google, whomever and wipe off and remove all of our items," Shoemaker said. "Once they started using these other apps, they'd be thinking more about Google now."

Apple later approved Google Voice in late 2010.

Competition with third-party software is apparently an ongoing at Apple, which continues to grapple with potential disruptions to its ecosystem to this day.

"There is now a conflict as Apple goes into these spaces that are ripe with competition," Shoemaker said. "I'm really worried about the competition."

Bloomberg's conversation with Shoemaker can be heard on this week's episode of the "Decrypted" podcast.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    LordeHawkLordeHawk Posts: 168member
    Yet Google turned out alright...
  • Reply 2 of 7
    LatkoLatko Posts: 398member
    Thx Philip, on behalf of 3rd party devs. That’s _exactly_ the kind of reference that 3rd party devs and their solicitors need in their in their anti-trust case against Apple: the proof that they are direct competitors...
  • Reply 3 of 7
    dedgeckodedgecko Posts: 116member
    Latko said:
    Thx Philip, on behalf of 3rd party devs. That’s _exactly_ the kind of reference that 3rd party devs and their solicitors need in their in their anti-trust case against Apple: the proof that they are direct competitors...
    What!? The lawsuit was brought by alleged iPhone users, not developers. #FUD
    chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 7
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,970member
    dedgecko said:
    Latko said:
    Thx Philip, on behalf of 3rd party devs. That’s _exactly_ the kind of reference that 3rd party devs and their solicitors need in their in their anti-trust case against Apple: the proof that they are direct competitors...
    What!? The lawsuit was brought by alleged iPhone users, not developers. #FUD
    Spotify has asked the EU to look into anti-competitive practices against Apple with respect to the App Store.
  • Reply 5 of 7
    dedgeckodedgecko Posts: 116member
    dedgecko said:
    Latko said:
    Thx Philip, on behalf of 3rd party devs. That’s _exactly_ the kind of reference that 3rd party devs and their solicitors need in their in their anti-trust case against Apple: the proof that they are direct competitors...
    What!? The lawsuit was brought by alleged iPhone users, not developers. #FUD
    Spotify has asked the EU to look into anti-competitive practices against Apple with respect to the App Store.
    Yes, and anyone can ask the SEC to look into stock manipulation... it’s not a case yet. There’s no lawsuit filed by Spotify’s lawyers. There is one filed in the Pepper vs Apple.  Mea culpa if we’re talking different subjects, but at this time, I don’t consider Spotify a case / lawsuit yet. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,673member
    Businessperson: Hi, I’d like to sell my brand of shoes in your shoe store.
    Store owner: that’s fine, but we do already have our own house brand of shoes.
    Businessperson: Yes, but I’d like you to carry our brand of shoes as well.
    Store owner: yes, we do that with other brands as well. Fine, we’ll take 30 percent of the purchase price.
    Businessperson: what?! How much do you charge yourselves to sell your house brand of shoes?!
    Store owner: ... uh, 40 percent.
    Businessperson: oh, I see. Well all right then.

    Hopefully you can see how stupid this all is. Spotify wants to use Apple’s storefront, credit processing, return policies, advanced reporting and other “infrastructure” for free (and indeed to take money away from Apple Music) and not pay to do that.

    Do you suppose Spotify would let Apple Music make Spotify’s users a better offer on the Spotify website?? How about Google Play?

    Case closed.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    I work as an App Reviewer under Shoemaker and Morgan (who was just fired) and both managers are absolutely AWFUL! Shoemaker didn't give a shit about developers experience and Morgan only cared baout how my apps we can churn out. The only people I feel bad for are my coworkers in App Review who work required 10-12 hour days, with a required 6th day.
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