If Apple is going to control the iPhone app channel, it needs to do it properly

Fraser Speirs – App Store Review is broken.

"The problem that I and others are having right now is that it doesn’t scale. Apple requires that every single update to every app go through the same vetting process (although who knows exactly what this involves?). I submitted Exposure 1.0.1 to the App Store last Friday and, five days later, one version is “In Review”. The other is still, mysteriously, “waiting for upload”, even though I already did.

If Apple can’t guarantee a maximum 24 hour review process, they should drop it. What would happen if I was trying to correct a data loss or security bug, and the update sits in App Store limbo for five or ten days? Fortunately I’m not facing that situation, but these are fixes for painful crashing bugs that are really affecting users of Exposure. All the while, users continue to comment negatively on these already-fixed-but-not-released bugs in Exposure’s reviews on iTunes. Without demos, those reviews are an app’s lifeblood."

Fraser is completely right, of course. If Apple is assuming the responsibility of ensuring that each and every application meets some nebulous "quality" threshold, it has a duty to both consumers and developers to do things promptly. If a developer can’t release bug-fixes in a timely manner because Apple can’t check code, the system is broken and needs to be fixed.

I get the feeling that Apple is only now learning a set of lessons. How to handle an online software distribution channel, something that it appears to have assumed would be a piece of cake after its experience with music and video. And how to create and manage enterprise-level messaging infrastructure ("Exchange for the rest of us").

Unfortunately, it’s learning those lessons in public, and taking the knocks to its reputation as it goes.