iPhone App Vetting Still a Lottery

Apple’s iPhone app vetting has taken another knock with one product removed to avoid a lawsuit and another accepted after initially being banned for spurious reasons. The changes come as bloggers note that iPhone app developers have the chance to outperform Google – but at the same time stand little chance of making much cash.

Cartier filed a lawsuit against Apple after it approved an app by developer Digitopolis named Fake Watch, plus an accompanying ‘Gold Edition’. Both included ‘look-alike famous wrist watches’, one of which looked far too close to Cartier’s trademarked Tank brand for its liking. Apple appears to have concluded it would be a slam-dunk case and has already withdrawn the apps, with Cartier in turn dropping the legal action.

Where one app dies, another lives however. Apple has now overturned a decision to block an app named Eucalyptus (pictured). It’s a $10 app designed to make reading public domain books easier and more attractive. Unfortunately for the developers, one of the 20,000 titles which can be downloaded and read with the app is the Kama Sutra. That was enough for Apple to conclude the app was pornographic and refuse to carry it – despite the fact the same text can be read through any web browser, including Apple’s own Safari.

After a storm of publicity, an Apple representative has got in touch with developer Jamie Montgomerie, complimented the app, and agreed to carry it.

If you’re wondering why people would go through such hassles to get an app carried by Apple, ZDNet’s Jason Hiner has an interesting theory. He points out that while many people simply use Google as a catch-all shortcut for countless web activities (to the extent of typing in a company’s name to Google even when you already know the website address), the absence of a QWERTY keyboard on the iPhone takes away this advantage.

As well as arguing that for many tasks on an iPhone, a specialist app is more efficient than searching Google, he believes the small screen and relatively low-specs make developers produce more effective tools than they might offer for full-blown computers.

However, another writer has reminded would-be developers that the massive potential audience of iPhone users is no guarantee of financial success. Rick Strom, who has three applications in the top 100 charts for their relevant categories in the iPhone app store, notes that they are each selling between 6 and 35 units a day, with one bringing him revenue of just $4.

He also notes that given there are 36,000 apps in the store, the vast majority will be making pennies if they bring in any cash whatsoever. He warns that “Maybe you will be one of the few who makes a couple hundred grand in a hurry, but most likely you will be just another shlub tossing your blood, sweat and tears into the void where it will be ignored.”

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