More and more, the publication of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines is starting to seem like it might be a promise of the end of arbitrary app rejection. Following the surprise about course by Apple when it comes to allowing Google Voice apps on the App Store, it now appears that they’ve also rescinded their long-standing ban on App Store ringtone makers.
Pretty much since the App Store’s inception, applications that allowed users to make ringtones from the songs on their iPhone have been verboten. Exactly “why” has always been up for debate: although Apple did sell ringtones through iTunes, they clearly didn’t mind users rolling their own, as evidenced by GarageBand’s Export Ringtone feature. Whatever the reason, though, it was plenty hard to sneak a ringtone maker by Apple up until recently. Since the publication of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, though, no less than five ringtone makers have gone live on iTunes… seemingly ending the arbitrary blacklisting.
Ultimately, I think that the App Store Review Guidelines were less for the benefit of developers than for the review team, which always seemed to be rudderless. Many have noticed the published guidelines seem to have the brusque, off-hand quality of one of Jobs’ matter-of-fact emails: I’m starting to think His Steveness handed down the Guidelines from the mount to help a confused and beleaguered team get back on course.