Apple exec offers glimpse into App Store approval process

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As criticism of Apple's approval process for the iPhone App Store has persisted, company executive Phil Schiller has participated in an interview to defend the current system.

Schiller, the senior vice president for Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple, spoke with BusinessWeek just weeks after high-profile developer Joe Hewitt gained headlines for abandoning the iPhone. Hewitt said that he thought Apple could be "setting a horrible precedent for other software platforms" by mandating that all software be reviewed and approved.

In defense of his own company, Schiller said that the approval process guarantees a certain level of quality within the App Store. With about 10,000 applications submitted every week, he said Apple's important but difficult role is to ensure that the software available for download works as consumers would expect.

"We've built a store for the most part that people can trust," he said. "You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you'd expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works."

The Apple executive went on to provide some insight into the approval process. He said that about 10 percent of rejections are due to inappropriate content, while the other 90 percent represents "technical fixes" for bugs and similar issues. And a small number of applications fall into a gray area where Apple is unsure what to do: One example was software that helped people cheat at casinos, which forced the Cupertino, Calif., company to study state and international laws.

Copyright issues also exist, as the development company Rogue Amoeba's recently publicized frustrations pointed out. Apple rejected the company's Airfoil application because it used pictures of products like the Mac and Apple TV.

The new interview isn't the first time Schiller has come out in defense of the App Store. This summer, he began personally e-mailing developers to respond to their concerns as bad press surrounding the App Store continued to mount.

Apple also recently added a feature to its Developer Center Web site that adds some transparency to the status of submitted applications. Developers can see where their application is in the review process through nine status levels including "in review," "ready for sale," and "rejected."