Apple exec Schiller discusses App Store

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller made several interesting comments about the continuing growth of the App Store and the company’s app approval process. “We’ve built a store for the most part that people can trust,” Schiller said of the App Store. “You and your family and friends can download applications from the store, and for the most part they do what you’d expect, and they get onto your phone, and you get billed appropriately, and it all just works.” Comparing Apple to a brick-and-mortar retailer that must determine what products to put on store shelves, Schiller continued, Whatever your favorite retailer is, of course they care about the quality of products they offer. We review the applications to make sure they work as the customers expect them to work when they download them.”

Schiller reiterated the company’s count of more than 100,000 apps available in the App Store, and said that roughly 10,000 are submitted each week; Schiller claimed that most are approved, while about 90% of rejections are sent back to the developer due to a technical issue, such as a bug or unexpected operation. The other 10% are mostly inappropriate. “There have been applications submitted for approval that will steal personal data, or which are intended to help the user break the law, or which contain inappropriate content,” Schiller said. However, about 1% or fewer of returned apps fall into a gray area that Apple hadn’t previously anticipated; Schiller used apps written to help users cheat at casino games as an example. “We had to go study state and international laws about what’s legal and what isn’t, and what legal exposure that creates for Apple or the customer,” he said.

Schiller said the company is also taking a hard line on potentially illegal use of trademarks—particularly those owned by Apple. “If you don’t defend your trademarks, in the end you end up not owning them,” Schiller says. “And sometimes other companies come to us saying they’ve seen their trademarks used in apps without permission. We see that a lot.” The executive did say that the company is working to make its trademark guidelines more sophisticated and transparent. “We need to delineate something that might confuse the customer and be an inappropriate use of a trademark from something that’s just referring to a product for the sake of compatibility,” he said. “We’re trying to learn and expand the rules to make it fair for everyone.”

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