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Radio App Developer Unhappy With Apple

Is a developer of single-station apps a spammer? Jim Barcus says Apple seems to think so

Jim Barcus is president of Digital Jukebox and

Since April we have been creating iPhone apps for radio stations with great success. The stations that have ordered them from us love them and it is one more way for the stations to get and keep their listeners. Not only can the listener rely on the app for entertainment, but they get the local news, sports and weather for the local station that they like to listen to.

On Nov. 10, we had 10 radio station apps rejected by Apple because it says that single-station apps are the same as a ‘FART’ app and represent spam in the iTunes store; and they will no longer approve any more radio station apps unless there are hundreds of stations on the same app. We have had many more iPhone apps rejected since Nov. 10.

Nov. 10 represents the date that Apple started rejecting apps. We have talked to many Apple reps about this, but they appear to have a script that they all read from saying that a single-station app is not an enriching end-user experience. We disagree, since our single-station apps have had more than 44,000 downloads in the past month.

Apple implemented a new rule that says “developers ‘spamming’ the App Store with many versions of similar apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.” Furthermore in the same document, they compare these apps that spam the App Store to Fart apps.

Apple is basically forcing all radio stations onto one app regardless of genre, age limitations, etc. I have argued that radio stations do not want to be on the same app with all the rest of the stations in the same town; and Apple’s answer was “too bad.” Apple even has a Rule 3.1 in the App review rules that states, “Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.” If this rule is good enough for Apple, why do radio stations have to be forced to have its competitors on the same app?

Furthermore, Apple does none or very little advertising on the radio. They never needed to because of all of those radio stations that have an app for their listeners give out hundreds of free mentions of the iTunes App Store every day to download their app and the hundreds if not thousands of page hits per day of listeners that click on the “Available in the iTunes Store” logo directing them to get their apps.

I wrote an e-mail to Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, and his response was “Sorry, we’ve made our decision.” I really don’t think he cares about radio stations at all. Everybody at Apple has the same stance. No more radio station apps, though every pizza joint can have its own app.

There are more than 900 flashlight apps, and more than 3,000 apps that do maps; but radio stations cannot have their own. Android Market and Blackberry World both like radio station apps for their platforms; but iTunes for some reason will not budge on what it calls spam applications.

If you want your own radio station app for your station, I encourage you to call Apple HQ at (408) 996-1010 and lodge your complaint or send an e-mail to Steve Jobs at [email protected].

If enough broadcast professionals complain, making Apple aware that stations are in fierce competition with each other and that listener loyalty makes the listener want to only listen to their favorite radio station, they may change this rule.

Radio World welcomes other points of view to [email protected].