Time is money, and increasing restrictions, long approval times, and interesting market figures are starting to suggest that the answer doesn’t always need to be Google or Apple.
In May of 2014, Facebook updated its login process to give users much more control over sharing their personal information with apps they have downloaded. In addition, the company rolled out a Login Review Process, according to Spark Loft.
This new policy serves as an oversight measure directed towards apps that require a user’s information beyond what is available in their public profile. App developers have subsequently been forced to allot for extra time in their product development processes if they require additional elements from users profiles.
Facebook categorizes these pieces of information under two groups – read and write permissions. Read permissions determine access to any further pieces of information not designated as public information in accordance with the company’s policy, while write permissions determine what content apps can publish on the user’s behalf.
Users are also now able to login anonymously to their apps without revealing their personal information.
When these policies were announced, some members of the app development community simply saw them as another set of obstacles to deal with in the post-development approval process.
Apple and Google’s app stores already have notorious approval timelines, which have created headaches for developers. Time is money, especially for many app start-ups, and any additional delays dig into their own resources to deliver a serviceable product.
So, How Long Does it Take?
Until July of this year, Apple in particular had been so secretive regarding its approval times that they suspended reporting these figures altogether back in 2012, according to ZDNet. Subsequently, they gave way to independent watchdog sites such as the one operated by Shiny Development, which provides a frequently updated page of average approval times for apps.
Despite not being constructed from official Apple data, the site crowdsources developer feedback across social networks and discussion groups using the hashtag #macreviewtime.
Currently, responses indicate that average approval time takes 6 days via the iOS store and 4 days via the Mac App Store. Both figures have fluctuated 1-2 days in the past year. Despite concerns regarding the credibility of Shiny’s data, Apple reported similar times in a report released in July, with 98% of new and updated apps experiencing an average approval timeline of 5 days.
Judging from Shiny’s reported trends, upward spikes in approval times often occur concurrently when iOS and other Apple software updates are released or during the holidays - periods where developers are often either rushing to release their new products in time for the consumer rush or taking promotional advantage with new updates.
Given the long wait times outside of your control, you might want to consider cutting time in other phases. If you're a non-programmer, anyone with content to share can make an app with AppMakr for an easy and effective way of reaching their audience.
Where the Competition Lies
While, on the surface, these reported averages are not cause for any deep concern among those in the app community, they likely seem like an eternity to Droid developers.
The approval timeline for Google’s Play Store is a mere 2 hours and features fewer restrictions and rejections. But according to some in the industry, there are advantages to associating with Apple developers, as Jason Sherman, a Technology and Business Consultant, illustrates in a January 2014 article in Examiner:
"Apple is very selective as to what apps it allows on it's store, which leads to less clutter. This strict selective process can also hurt other developers who work hard on apps only to be rejected.[...] The real question here is, what is better? A fast approval, or a more strict submission process, to weed out all the garbage."
"Most will argue that Apple's process is quite fair, and I agree. With all of the strict guidelines, Apple users love the apps, and this is because Apple reviews each one carefully. They actually assign a caseworker to each app individually to give it a fair chance."
"Also, they communicate with developers via email, and are quick to list what the errors were (if any) that caused a rejection. Once you submit the app again without the errors, they are pretty fast to approve the app (if there are no more errors)."
Given Apple’s reputation, Sherman’s argument certainly seems plausible. But market indicators paint a slightly more complicated picture. Despite Apple’s announcement of record revenues from its App Store in July, as covered by Forbes, Android’s share of the market now sits at 81%. Apple has been losing potential customers to Android for the past several quarters.
At face value, this trend does seem to illustrate Google as a formidable threat down the road, but as Tony Bradley of Forbes points out, “two thirds of the devices that make up Android’s 81 percent market share are cheap “junk phones.”
In fact, he notes Samsung as the bigger threat to Apple’s revenue stream, who made 53% of the revenue last quarter. For Bradley, Google and Apple exist within two different realities:
“When it comes to real world usage data, Apple has an overwhelming share of smartphone and tablet app sales, Web browser use, and ad network hits. Apple leads Android in enterprise adoption, and in retail shopping use by consumers.”
Developers, Developers, Developers?
But what does this mean for developers? In whom should they place their trust when it comes to realizing the success of their apps? Seeing as two realities already exist for developers within the app market, more will likely appear – each appealing to different consumer bases and needs.
For small businesses, discussion groups, and blogs, alternatives already exist. Third-party app platforms have been increasingly popular with these demographics and offer compatibility with a variety of popular mobile operating systems, including iOS. And like Google’s store, they offer low costs and shorter approval times for these consumers who often have tighter budgets than their established rivals.
However, their biggest strength is offering a focused market to flourish in rather than getting lost in the clutter. This advantage isn’t meant, necessarily, to take Apple’s revenue stream head on, but, believe it or not, some apps are actually industry focused. Ultimately, different platforms are likely to serve consumer needs in the long term. Not everyone is looking to swipe right.
Latest posts by Brendan Fitzgerald (see all)
- How Long Does it Take for your App to be Approved? - August 14, 2014