Several days ago, blog post from well-respected developer (of Dash, documentation browser) stirred quite a storm among the Apple developer community.
From the description – account transfer, fraudulent reviews for an app that did not really needed them etc – all pointed to very misfortunate sequence of events that to many (me included) seemed like Apple made a mistake and then double-downed on it.
This particular point really did not sit well with me:
Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed.
It sure sounded like Apple terminated the account without ever giving the developer a chance to explain / defend. That Kafkianesque scenario was terrifying for any App Store bound developer. Since Apple did not provide any actual comments on this (unverified screenshot of an email does not count) I found myself questioning the years I spent encouraging people to delve into iOS development.
So much that I sent a rather strongly-worded email to Tim Cook and Phil Schiller that this kind of attitude towards 3rd-party developers is - mildly speaking - not acceptable. I never did that for anything before but this really worried me. I’m hardly the only one feeling like that and many developers were very vocal with their concerns. All that pressuring from various sides must have pushed Apple enough to do something.
Today Apple sent an informal press release to few of the respected names in the community. The main point I was relieved to read here: Apple has tried to work out the issues with the developer over a prolonged period of time.
What actually happened though is now open to the court of opinions.
Bogdan Popescu quickly responded with his side of the story saying that he personally never heard from Apple about the fraudulent reviews until 2 days after his account was terminated. He also published a phone call with an Apple representative where that’s actually confirmed as true.
So what apparently happened (my guess based on what is known):
- Apple tried multiple times to resolve the problems with Bogdan’s relative who is the owner of the problematic account.
- Apple never contacted Kapeli (Bogdan)
- Bogdan requests conversion of Kapeli account from individual to company
- (I assume that during this conversion various account checks are performed)
- Apple realizes that this account is connected to the one they have flagged as fraudulent
- Apple terminates both accounts
If this is correct sequence of steps, then in my opinion Apple made a mistake here. I believe that they also realized that. I think it’s an honest mistake to make, nothing malicious. But still a mistake and they were apparently trying to workout some mutually acceptable way with Bogdan to resolve the situation.
Mistery remains: Bogdan says he sent a blog post draft to Apple for approval. They did not respond to that but instead opted to issue this limited-reaching press release. Why..? Situation is obviously still unfolding…
Whatever the outcome may be, I really think that Apple should seriously reconsider their internal account handling procedures. The fact that two accounts use the same credit card and/or devices is really not the good enough proof to take such drastic action.
When you sign up for the iOS dev program – as individual – you assign yourself as technical, legal and marketing contact for the given account. For the drastic measure of terminating the account, Apple really should have contacted the legal contact for each relevant account. Unless some new information comes to light in upcoming days, they have only contacted the owner of one account but have terminated both.