Phillip Shoemaker is a former App Store director who was responsible for leading app approvals until he left the company in 2016. Since then, Shoemaker has publicly criticized Apple for its strict App Store rules. In a new interview with MobileGamer.biz, the executive – now the CEO of Identity.com – said that the App Store guidelines are tricky and blamed Phil Schiller for rejecting many apps.
App Store guidelines and app rejections
According to Shoemaker, the App Store guidelines were written “in a very grey way” so that Apple would have room to better decide which apps the company wants on its platform. “The idea was to start that way and then refine them over time,” he said. However, time passed, and Apple never seemed to care about easing the App Store guidelines.
“[The guidelines] were rewritten in 2017, and [Apple] did none of that. In fact, they opened up more grey areas – it should be pretty solid right now. The guidelines should be very black and white.” And in fact, there are a lot of stories about how Apple has applied its guidelines in different ways for different apps.
But there’s more. Shoemaker takes a stand against the App Store’s 30% commission. He argues that the tax made sense in 2009, as Apple was creating a new platform and providing tools never seen before. But “things have changed a lot,” the executive said in the interview. “Apple could do that [cutting the commission tax] and would still make a good amount of money.”
Interestingly, Shoemaker seems to have some personal grudge against Phil Schiller, who became known for his role as Apple’s VP of Marketing. Now almost retired and labeled an “Apple Fellow,” Schiller still works as an advisor and helps lead the App Store team. But Shoemaker says Schiller needs to “get his meaty paws off the App Store.”
The former App Store director says that people like Eddy Cue and Greg Jozwiak are “more progressive” but that Schiller still follows Steve Jobs’ ideals from the App Store’s early years.
According to him, Schiller and his team meet weekly to discuss whether certain apps and games should be allowed or rejected in the App Store. Shoemaker described these meetings as “four hours in a room arguing about apps.” As Apple has been facing scrutiny over the App Store, Shoemaker believes that if “Phil doesn’t step back, it’ll absolutely be the courts making changes.”
Amidst the Epic Games v. Apple court case, it was revealed that the company has over 500 people working to review over 100,000 apps every week. Apple says that less than 1% of developers appeal a rejection because they disagree with it. A VP of the App Store also confirmed that some developers have access to special APIs not available to everyone.
So, of course, what Shoemaker said when it comes to how Apple flexes or tightens the App Store guidelines according to what it wants is certainly concerning. But at the same time, Shoemaker left Apple on the wrong foot, so his criticism should be taken with a grain of salt. The full interview can be read at MobileGamer.biz.
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