updated 11:30 pm EST, Wed November 24, 2010
Dev claims Apple equates them with "fart apps"
Jim Barcus, president of DigitalJukeBox.com and DJBApps -- a company that makes smartphone apps for commercial radio stations -- says Apple has started (as of Nov. 10th) rejecting "all" single-station iPhone apps in favor of radio apps that only feature "hundreds" of stations, saying that Apple told him they equated the single-station apps with "fart apps" and considered them a form of "spamming" the App Store. However, dozens of single-station radio apps remain on the App Store and the company does not appear to be removing any existing apps, making it unclear if this is a real policy change at the App Store -- or if the company is referring specifically to Barcus' products only.
In an editorial for Radio Magazine, Barcus quotes Apple representatives saying that his company's single-station apps -- which are predominantly re-skinned versions of the same basic program tuned to that particular station's online stream -- violate rule 2.20 of the iOS App Review Guidelines, which states "Developers 'spamming' the App Store with many versions of similar apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program." This would, on its face, appear to exempt single-station apps that are built in-house or otherwise aren't just lightly-customized versions of existing apps.
In the article, Barcus claims Apple told him that "will no longer approve any more radio station apps unless there are hundreds of stations on the same app," but despite the quotes appears to be summarizing any actual contact from Apple formally rejecting his company's apps. On the company's web site, he quotes an e-mail sent to Apple CEO Steve Jobs complaining about the rejection -- along with Jobs' typically terse reply, "Sorry, we've made our decision." DJBApps has left the Apple apps page up with just the article in place, and removed mention of App Store apps from the rest of the site. They still offer Android Marketplace and BlackBerry App World services.
There is at least one developer, Stormy Productions, who has made multiple single-station radio apps for commercial and internet-only radio stations whose products are still available on the App Store. Single-station apps are popular with fans of a particular local radio station, and indeed some were featured on the App Store's category spotlight last July.
Barcus' article maintains that Apple doesn't understand that commercial stations are in "fierce competition" with each other and don't want to be grouped together in "tuner" style apps, concluding that Apple simply "doesn't care about radio stations" much, rarely advertising on them and allowing other sorts of businesses -- like "pizza joints" -- to have single-store apps.