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February 12, 2013

Apple's App Store Policies Frustrating for Both Consumers, Developers

By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer

Suppose you purchase a Spanish-to-German dictionary app in Apple’s (News - Alert) App Store. The app costs $24.99 at the point of sale.

Because of low sales, the developer later decides to stop selling the app. After multiple OS updates, your app will no longer function on your iPhone (News - Alert) or iPad. You’ll have to purchase a completely new dictionary.

And this is happening because of Apple’s App Store policies.

Last November, Paragon Software Group, which licenses reference titles in 30 different languages and distributes them to mobile markets, contacted Apple in tandem with a customer. They initiated contact because Apple does not allow companies to continue updating their apps if the apps are no longer sold in the App Store.

In other words, if Paragon stops selling its Spanish to German dictionary app, users who have purchased the app can’t receive continued support for iOS upgrades.

If an app is no longer sold, the listing has to be entirely removed from the App Store.

Paragon also takes issue with Apple’s API approach, which the company has labeled “monopolistic.” For example, Apple issues a dictionary API with every iOS device. The company provides no way for customers to set up an alternative dictionary as a default.

Finally, Paragon is not happy with the App Store’s definition of “spam.” According to Paragon, too many dictionary and reference apps are considered duplicate whether or not they deliver significant differences in content.

Paragon had scathing words regarding the App Store’s spam policy: “Apple’s current review process is seemingly generic and staffers don't seem to be trained in handling educational and reference applications.”

The firm argues that the App Store policies are costly to iOS users. They can also damage a developer’s reputation for customer service.

Apple representatives have been non-responsive to Paragon despite its obstreperous complaints. Obstreperous means “noisy.” Of course, you’d need an up-to-date dictionary app to find that out.

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