Apple, Pricing, and 17+
“You can remove OneVoice from the App Store or set the rating at 17+”
That’s what an Apple representative told me near the end of a 25 minute phone conversation. I just didn’t see a way to do it without grossly misrepresenting my app. It seems we’d reached an impasse.
I’ve had OneVoice in the App Store since January, always priced at $199 (it replaces a $7k+ medical device). Every couple months I put out a new update with bug fixes and new features. Each one has been easily and quickly approved. So what happened this time?
The latest update with a few small new features had been rejected. Here’s the reason Apple gave in an email:
“Apps with prices greater than $99 are more appropriately targeted to audiences with sufficient responsibility to make a higher-priced purchases. Therefore, it would be appropriate to adjust the rating of your app to 17+ to reflect a more suitable audience for this type of purchase.”
Interesting. I understand where they are coming from and while it is a little frustrating, it is probably best for the App Store as a whole. So I went to make the change. It turns out nothing is so simple. Instead of simply choosing a rating you have to select from a series of options which go from bad to worse. Take a look for yourself.
There isn’t an option for “Priced over $99.” So instead I have to choose between “Profanity or Crude Humor” and “Simulated Gambling.” Or there are some much worse options! Whatever I select will appear on the App Store listing for OneVoice (on the left side under the app icon), with the reason specified. So it would look like this:
– For Horror/Fear Themes
Here’s the worst part: the vast majority of OneVoice users are kids under 12 years old with disabilities. Their speech language pathologists recommend OneVoice, then the parents buy it, and it is used by the kids. It gives them a way to communicate with friends and family. I don’t have a way to meet Apple’s demands without misrepresenting my app to users. So I sent a lengthy reply back to Apple stating my case.
The next day I got a call from an Apple Developer Relations representative. We’ll call him Bob. First I should say that Bob was very nice and tried to be as helpful as possible. He listened carefully, completely agreed that I was in the right, had legitimate concerns, and that it was a shortcoming of the iTunes Connect software that I didn’t have an accurate way to rate OneVoice as 17+. He also added a little background. Basically because of fraud on the App Store and some lawsuits related to accidental purchases they made this new policy. Since it was related to legal he refused to say anymore.
But ultimately it came down to removing OneVoice from the store (something I really don’t want to do) or selecting the least offensive of the options. I decided to go with Mature Themes and be done with the whole thing. Hopefully it won’t confuse parents too much.
Bob apologized for the having to enforce the policy without having a real solution in place. He ended by giving me his direct phone number and email address, saying that if I ever needed a policy explained, a favor, or some help on something related to iOS and the App Store to contact him directly.
Bob was very nice, sympathetic, and helpful. He also promised to make sure the option for price is added to the iTunes Connect product roadmap, but said they only release 3-4 times per year, so not to expect it too soon. Apple, please add this option. I don’t like misleading my customers.
That’s the story. Now it’s time to move on to something productive.
If you’re interested in iPhone App Design, signup for my mailing list iOS Design Weekly.