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Changes to the App Store
September 30th, 2008

AppleInsider reported today on some changes that were recently rolled out on the App Store. One in particular made me grumpy:

In the past, all applications were categorized based on their ‘release date.’ However, Apple had been determining release dates based on the last date the application received an update, rather than the first time it appeared on the store as a 1.0 application.

In my experience, the ‘release date’ actually refers to the date that the developer submitted their app (or update) to the store, not to the date that it was actually approved for sale by Apple. For TV Forecast, this meant a difference of 8 days. This is an important distinction, especially when considering this next point:

As a result, applications receiving updates would be pushed back to the first page of their respective category listing, often appearing on the App Store home page within iTunes as well, and the first page of category listings viewed on an iPhone or iPod touch.

Due to the delay between submission and approval, neither version 1.0 or 1.0.1 of TV Forecast appeared on the first page of the Entertainment category. To find TV Forecast in the Entertainment section on the day that it was released, you would have had to scroll down 7 days worth of app submissions. I don’t know what the voodoo is exactly, but given that there are currently apps in the Entertainment category with todays date, there would appear to be a way to have an app either:

  1. be approved instantly
  2. be categorized by its approval date rather than its submission date

Now onto the change. AppleInsider quotes Krishna Vegesna as saying, “applications are now categorized according to the ‘Actual Released Date’ rather that the last updated date”. The conclusion:

The moves should also allow developers to shift their focus to “real innovation in functionality rather than focusing on who pushes the update first,” Vegesna said. At the same time, however, he raises the concern that tactical developers may now focus on rolling out new apps to generate high profits rather than improving their existing ones.

I totally agree with the concern. In my opinion, this new policy removes the incentive for developers to update their applications at all. Forget about focussing on real innovation in functionality, why update at all? Certainly, application updates are made to support existing users. But at the same time, they can help to attract more users. This is not a bad thing. AppleInsider writes that this change in policy affects how applications appear in the store after receiving a “minor” update, but is this true? Does Apple really discriminate between minor and major updates? I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong – the App Store has served me very well so far and I love it. But I see this change as a bad solution to what I agree is a real problem. Essentially, all developers are being punished for the ‘who pushes the update first’ phenomenon.

  • While this is certainly disappointing, you must be happy about the new policy to only allow reviews by customers who have bought or downloaded an app, right? I mean, [hopefully] no more one star reviews, like, “too expensive!” and “there’s a web app for free!” and those pimping that crappy (I bought it before TV Forecast was available and regretted it immediately) What’s On? app…

  • anyway I didn’t found your app in the store in the first lace, I found it in the Internet and I found it right away. so people who a looking for an app like yours will find you easly and they will love your app, cause it is to the point – just the TV Shows I want to see nothing more, pure and plain!

    be patient time will tell 😉