Maya is a hypotetical cupcake shop owner. Like many small business owners, she is trying her best to make it all work for her and her employees. Knowing that she needed a presence in the Apple App Store, but unable to afford a custom design from a development company, Maya hired a small shop specialized in providing business like her with a good enough app to enable her to connect with her customers with a price that she could afford. She was happy, so were her clients, but now Apple changed her policies for the App Store and her app is in danger of being removed for not being original enough.
These type of little ISV building apps for small business owners with prices much more reasonable than those practices by bespoke solution developers have their days numbered. Apparently Apple does not consider them a valid citizen of the App Store developer community. With the recent changes in their policies, Apple has the right to ban apps that appear to have been created by a template/generational app.
Apple is hostile to developers who think differently
Apple has done lots of arbitrary decisions before regarding the App Store, like some years ago when they decided to ban apps that were not built with their blessed Xcode Tools making lots of shops that relied on other technologies unable to ship products. This policy was lifted later but for months, those professionals were tied.
Apple is hostile to the web
Apple wants the App Store model to win and exercises its ban hammer in anything that it perceives as threatening to the App Store. What Apple considers threatening might not be what you consider threatening and even though everyone loves how polished some macOS and iOS apps are, that is not the whole history.
Recently there have been many advances in the Web Platform such as the conglomeration of standards and methods that we are calling PWAs which allows developers to build webapps that are virtually undistinguishable from native apps. Apple doesn’t allow third-party web engines on iOS, thus preventing Firefox and Chrome from shipping their advanced engines with their new cutting-edge features that could lead to many products migrating from the App Store back to the Web.
Apple hostility towards the Web and templates is harmful to your business
The Web is the one medium we have that allows everyone to be able to publish content regardless of what other companies policies. Everyone has the same opportunities on the Web (while Net Neutrality persists), so if you’re a business owner and want a Web presence, no one can stop you from having it.
This lead to an multitude of business and services catering for the needs of people and companies who need a Web presence but can’t build it on their own. It is quite easy and cheap to pick a template, add your own content and put a Web page up. It is quite democratic. Apple don’t think you should be able to work this way, it wants the bespoke apps only, the artisanal code built with sophistication, according to their policy, it doesn’t matter what you want, or what is possible to you, if you use a template, you’re a pariah.
This couldn’t happen on the Web, Apple would not be able to ban anyone, but since it prevents new engines on its platforms, we’re left without any way out of this mess.
You know what is best for your business. Your customers should be able to connect to you even with a template app. The fact that Apple is arrogant and dictatorial enough to think that it can and should interfere in this relationship is a revealing sign of how it treats others.
If you think that this is a problem, that you should be able to use whatever tool you want to built your presence online, then, you should fight for the Web. Fight for a platform where you are free and there are no gatekeepers. Make noise! Fight for Net Neutrality! Annoy Apple into allowing better engines on their platforms! Don’t let Apple get away with this kind of decision.
To learn even more about this, check this piece from Techcrunch detailing it further and even showing how some small ISV are going bankrupt.
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