\ After Backlash, Apples Reverses Ruling Banning Copycat Apps
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After Backlash, Apples Reverses Ruling Banning Copycat Apps

By Roberto Ragusa, Co-Managing Partner of DIT Web Solutions

Apple's impact on the business world continues to be felt.  One of the key issues with technology based companies is the ever-changing rules and regulations set forth by industry giants, changing the face of a company with a single sentence.  

The recent ruling by Apple regarding App Store Guidelines is no exception. With one swoop of the keyboard, Apple managed to turn large sections of the App industry upside down.

Companies were given until 1 Jan 2018 to meet with new compliance terms on app submissions.

Original Apple (App Store Guideline) release statement: 

"4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected."

And for that reason, some companies were out. Finding the rules too constricting, certain app development companies actually shut down their app development services. 

Apple's deletion of any portion of relevant technology solutions further erodes small business' ability to be competitive in the marketplace. Technology should continue to be made available to enable small businesses to succeed; not thwart their progress by deleting them.

The ruling also captured the attention of Representative Ted Lieu (D, CA), who has asked the company to reconsider in a letter dated 1 Dec, 2017.

Apple has since updated its app store guidelines to relax restrictive rules on template apps.  The ruling which banned mass-templated apps from populating its marketplace, was revised and re-issued with a new set of 'app-spectations'.

Revised Apple (App Store Guideline) release statement: 

"4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app's content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.
Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or "picker" model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event."

This is a technical way of stating that you can create one platform, with several clients that can be added to the platform, and still be customizable to the client. Much like creating a Facebook page, you can create a page that looks and feels the way you want it to, but you can't change the platform, which is Facebook.

Before we all get out our placards and stage a protest, let's take a step back and look at life through Apple's eyes. The overall arching concept and mission of Apple is to create unique apps with the best possible user experience for the customer.  When the customer downloads an app that looks very similar to other apps or the app doesn't work as designed, the customer may perceive that the product, the Apple phone, is less valuable.  Cheap or clone-like apps, will detract from the Apple image. I can feel Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave now.

Bottom line is that Apple apps need to represent Apple; they need to look good and work well.

That's the theory anyhow, and would explain the decision, and its revisions.  The only other explanation is perhaps it's a ploy to make more money from registration fees. Much like the DMV forcing you to renew your license fee every year.  App developers must set up an Apple App account for submissions, but this would force each client to set up their own account for approval to the App store. 

Regardless of the why's and wherefores, there are some steps you can take moving forward. If you are an App developer, work on your master App with user portals for different companies that are customizable; an aggregate, multiple account system. Or get good at building unique, customizable apps.

Is there an alternative to copycat apps? The simple alternative is to let an app developer create your own customized app. Find a reputable App Dev company, and get an app made to your specs.  This may be costlier in the short term, but in the long term, you save on monthly fees and the ongoing cost of keeping your app on an aggregate platform, which ultimately doesn't belong to you.  This also reduces the risk of having your "copycat app" yanked out of the App store. 

Roberto 'Rob' Ragusa, Co-Managing Partner of DIT Web Solution,  utilized his expertise as a computer programmer to create Digital Ink Technologies, Inc., with a focus on websites and app development, in June 2004.  With his leadership they expanded to include Hosting, Domains, Online Marketing Services, SEO and PPC. The company won the Business Achievement Award for the category of businesses with 1-15 employees from the Whitby, Ontario Chamber of Commerce in 2014. In 2017, Ragusa formed a partnership with Louie Pateropoulos and merged Digital Ink Technologies, Inc. with Avenue Road Advertising. DIT Web Solutions was born and now features two locations in the Greater Toronto area. Ragusa received a degree in Web Development from Durham College.

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