Apple, being strategic with app store approvals is not strategic

On June 28, Google+ launched. Immediately, there was a Google+ app for Android.

For iPhone? Not quite as fast.

In fact, it was not until today, July 19, that the Google+ iPhone app finally hit the Apple app store. That’s closing in on a month later … and it’s not because the app was unavailable, either. It had been submitted prior to July 5 as multiple accounts attest. But it only became available today.

This is not new. Google Voice spent 17 months in the app store approval process. 17 months! And it’s not just a Google-Apple problem either … Opera Mini, an alternative web browser, took the better part of a month to approve, while many speculated whether Apple would allow competition for one of its core iPhone apps. Podcaster was rejected, because iTunes can handle podcasts. My App Sales will never be allowed because it accesses iTunes Connect in an unauthorized way. The list goes on.

While Apple will never come out and say so … some apps are rejected because they threaten Apple’s strategic interests.

My point here is to say that iOS and the Apple app store’s position as the primary and first choice of mobile platforms for developers is a very, very significant strategic interest of Apple. And playing god with the platform … choosing who you’ll let in and when and why … is not good for PR, not good for partner relations, and not good for developer relations. In fact, it’s so bad that it outweighs any possible advantage gained by rejecting apps that might in some ways vary from Apple’s wishes.

A better and longer-term strategic mindset would be: we will do whatever we can to ensure the app store is the best place and first place for developers to publish. Even if it sometimes hurts us.

What other apps have been rejected or delayed by Apple?