As its feud with Epic Games reaches new heights, new examples of Apple’s bizarre behavior towards developers are starting to emerge. Last week WordPress revealed it was blocked from pushing updates for its official app to the App Store because the app didn’t use Apple’s in-app purchasing system.
Apple finally caved, ultimately apologizing for blocking the updates simply because it wasn’t getting a 30% cut for domain and plan purchases made through the app. Now, Zac Wood, the developer behind Attics, an app enabling you to download and stream music from Grateful Dead, and other bands, has revealed that Apple has permanently suspended his account after he pushed a minor app update.
In an email shared by Zac, Apple says that he engaged in a “pattern of manipulative or misleading behavior” and hence his developer account is terminated, without appeal. Apple does not specify which behavior it considers as manipulate or misleading, instead refers to Section 3.2(f) of the Apple developer agreement.
Zac states he submitted a minor update to the App Store before the termination, that update may have included “inaccurate metadata,” and/or misleading information such as customer response, misleading purchasing bait, dishonest, and/or fraudulent activity.
In a follow-up tweet, Zac added context saying the whole issue started after an app build got rejected last week, shortly after he received a message informing him that his account would get terminated, he appealed and received the final notice seen above. The section Apple refers to outlines “unlawful, unfair, misleading, fraudulent, improper, or dishonest acts or business practices,” however, Attics does not offer in-app purchases, does not run ads, and is free, adding to the confusion over Apple’s decision.
Apple’s lack of clarity, vagueness, and assertion of dominance over indie developers is not new but remains a terrifying prospect for many developers who rely on the App Store for their livelihood. To make matters worse, Apple tells Zac, and many others that have been in his shoes that the decision is “final” and that any “subsequent appeals you file will be closed without review.”
Apple is in the center of heavy accusations of anti-trust, anti-competitive, and unfair business practices when it comes to the App Store. In July Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in front of a US House sub-committee where he was grilled on the App Store, and how its ownership of the store may contribute to it limiting what apps can be released for users.