Apple begins listening to developers, allows promo codes for 17+ apps once again

Apple has reversed course and will once again issue promo codes to iPhone apps that come with a 17+ rating.

Last week I wrote about a recent decision by Apple which prohibited the use of promo codes for apps with a 17+ rating.  This decision generated a considerable number of complaints from developers because apps with a 17+ rating don't consist solely of apps with adult and violent themed content.  On the contrary, any apps that access content via online services like Twitter and Facebook are also stamped with a 17+ rating.  In addition, apps with an embedded web browser are tagged with a 17+ rating as well.

With promo codes being one of the best avenues available for developers to promote and freely distribute their apps, Apple taking away that ability understandably got the iPhone developer community up in arms.

Well, I'm happy to now report that Apple has done a 180, and will now, once again, issue promo codes to apps with 17+ ratings.  I can only assume that Apple paid close attention to the developer and Apple blogosphere response to its earlier decision and soon realized the error of its ways.  People, myself included, are sometimes quick to judge and jump upon any misstep from Apple.  It's sometimes easy to forget that with over 65,000 apps in the app store, Apple has a lot on its plate, with a number of varying considerations it needs to take into account.  Keeping everyone happy all the time just isn't a realistic expectation.

The success and model of the iTunes App Store is unprecedented, as Steve Jobs himself likes to point out, so there really isn't a blueprint for Apple to follow here.  Every other company, from RIM to Palm to Nokia, is following in Apple's app store footsteps while Apple is left to blaze the trail.  That's obviously the position Apple wants to be in, but it's also a position that brings with it a lot of unknown variables which make it prone to making mistakes.

I'm not advocating that we give Apple a pass every time it exhibits errors in judgement, but we also shouldn't ignore the growing number of instances when Apple has shown a willingness to listen to developers and adjust its course midstream.  Hopefully Apple's quick turnaround in this particular example will become indicative of how it will treat future decisions that, in hindsight, turn out to be ill-advised.

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