Fans of the iPhone may have heard that Apple removed several apps from its App Store after previously approving them. Though few are likely to argue with Apple removing malicious apps, it has gone too far with the most recent removal.
Last week a $999 app called “I am Rich” made news. The purposeless program displayed a gem in the center of the screen. That’s it. You couldn’t even change the color of the jewel.
After a very short life on the virtual shelves of the App Store, Apple removed it. As useless and overpriced as the app was, Apple should have let it stay in the store. Either the app would find no buyers (apparently it may have found as many as ten), or orders would trickle in here and there. That’s okay. That’s the long tail, right?
The internet is perfect for filtering out a lot of choices. We don’t need Apple to do it for us. Yes, if the app puts users at risk, remove it. If the app is irresponsible with privacy, remove it. But if the app doesn’t meet Apple’s quality standards, don’t remove it. Give it a listing in the store, let users review it, and let the market decide.
Taking away choices–even awful, terrible, expensive choices–hurts the users. The iPhone is a remarkable device and has the opportunity to fill the gaps of productivity and entertainment in anyone’s life. If there are a few people who want to pay for the status of a do-nothing, glowing jewel, let them.
Apple getting into the app quality business is bad for developers, too. Already you have to go through the gauntlet to get your app approved. Being approved doesn’t mean anything. Your app could still be pulled at any moment.
Yes, it’s Apple’s prerogative to decide what to put in their store, much as any shop owner decides what products to sell. By being unclear and secret, Apple is alienating both developers and users. And worse, by being snobby, Apple is discouraging app creators from taking some risks and trying out a wacky idea.
Think different, but not that different.