A brand is a fragile thing (part 2)

We love Apple. Really we do. But sometimes we don’t like them very much.

Apple provides a high-quality App Store experience to the buying public. One of the ways they do this is by manually reviewing each app that a developer submits. They also manually review each update that a developer submits.

This is an unusual situation for software companies. We are used to being able to deliver our product directly to our customers. But, fair enough, it’s Apple’s App Store and they get to set the rules.

However, their reviewers can get persnickety sometimes and can reject an app (or an update to an app) for some pretty minor and seemingly arbitrary reasons. Once rejected, for any reason, an app has to be resubmitted which puts it at the end of the review queue. Again, fair enough: their Store, their process, their rules.

But the App Store review process can take a long time. Recently it’s been 7-8 calendar days. Which means that a rejection of any kind creates a 2-week review process. And God help you if they reject you a second time as you now have a 3-week delay.

Their Store, their process, their rules, right?

Well, not quite. We currently have a case where a flaw in Apple’s submission process allowed an “ad hoc” version of our product (one that’s not ready for prime-time) to make it onto the App Store. When we realized the problem we fixed it within 10 minutes but we had to resubmit our app to Apple. Our customers are now faced with at least a one week delay before being able to get a fix. And, in order for new customers to not be affected, we felt we had no choice but to remove the app from the App Store entirely. Which disappoints potential new customers, disrupts our marketing campaigns, and directly impacts our revenue.

We’re not a gaming company. We create serious business apps that our customers rely on. If there’s a problem, our customers need us to resolve it quickly. And we want to resolve it quickly. But Apple’s process gets in the way.

Remember, too, that we pay Apple 30% of our revenues (read that again). Therefore, we’re Apple’s real customer here: we pay Apple for the privilege of placing our products in their store.

So how does this get back to brand? If I’m not able to service my customers well, then my brand gets damaged. And if my brand is being damaged because of a supplier (Apple) then their brand is eroded in my eyes.

Apple must remind itself that, while it builds superb products, their products are only as good as the developer community that creates apps for them. If the developer community feels that their respective reputations are unduly vulnerable to Apple, if the developers can’t support their customers in the way they need to, then the developer community will find another platform.

Come on, Apple. We love your products and your platforms and we are delighted to be a part of your community. But you need to provide us (your customer) with the quality and responsive services that we expect and need. Or both our brands will suffer.