Apple cutting all single-station radio apps from iPhone?


Apple is now barring all single-station radio applications from the iPhone and iPad, saying that single station apps are the same as a “fart” (yes, the sound) app and represent spam in the iTunes store. So says Jim Barcus, the president of DJB Radio Apps, which helps build iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps and other mobile apps for radio stations across the country.

In September, Apple published new App Store review guidelines and farts were one of the things disallowed. As part of those guidelines, it looks like Apple began rejecting single-station radio apps on 11/10, declaring that it “will no longer approve any more radio station apps unless there are hundreds of stations on the same app.” If Barcus is right (and there is some dispute on this), it would be great news for iHeartRadio, RadioTime and the like, but not so much if your stream isn’t bundled with a large aggregator.

Says Barcus on his website:

“In a nutshell, Apple really does not want any more single station iPhone apps in the app store.

Since April we have been creating iPhone apps for radio stations with great success. The stations that have ordered them from us love them and it is one more way for the stations to get and keep their listeners. Not only can the listener rely on the app for entertainment, but they get the local news, sports and weather for the local station that they like to listen to.

Nov. 10 represents the date that Apple started rejecting apps. We have talked to many Apple reps about this, but they appear to have a script that they all read from saying that a single-station app is not an enriching end-user experience. We disagree, since our single-station apps have had more than 44,000 downloads in the past month.

Apple implemented a new rule that says “developers ‘spamming’ the App Store with many versions of similar apps will be removed from the iOS Developer Program.” Furthermore in the same document, they compare these apps that spam the App Store to Fart apps.

Apple is basically forcing all radio stations onto one app regardless of genre, age limitations, etc. I have argued that radio stations do not want to be on the same app with all the rest of the stations in the same town; and Apple’s answer was “too bad.” Apple even has a Rule 3.1 in the App review rules that states, “Apps with metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.” If this rule is good enough for Apple, why do radio stations have to be forced to have its competitors on the same app?

Furthermore, Apple does none or very little advertising on the radio. They never needed to because of all of those radio stations that have an app for their listeners give out hundreds of free mentions of the iTunes App Store every day to download their app and the hundreds if not thousands of page hits per day of listeners that click on the “Available in the iTunes Store” logo directing them to get their apps.”

Barcus also wrote an e-mail to Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, and his response was “Sorry, we’ve made our decision.”

“I really don’t think he cares about radio stations at all. Everybody at Apple has the same stance. No more radio station apps, though every pizza joint can have its own app,” said Barcus. “There are more than 900 Flashlight apps. More than 3,000 apps that do maps. But radio stations cannot have their own. Android Market and Blackberry World both like radio station apps for their platforms; but iTunes for some reason will not budge on what it calls spam applications.”

He’s also recommending that if stations want their own radio station app they should call call Apple HQ at (408) 996-1010 and lodge a complaint or send an e-mail to Steve Jobs at [email protected].

Claiming that Barcus is wrong, Paul Jacobs, VP/GM Jacobs Media/jacAPPS, tells RBR-TVBR that he’s been able to build radio station apps since Nov. 10: “Since that date, we have had apps for radio stations accepted as new as well as upgrades.  And we are not alone.  I invite you to go to the iTunes App Store and go into the “free” apps portion of the Music section.  There you will see examples of dozens of radio stations – domestic, international, and Internet –  that have been accepted and/or upgraded since November 10.”

Battle of the screen shots?
Jacobs even sent us a screen shot proving it. There are at least five radio stations — both AM and FM –with apps listed post-Nov. 10:

Now, not to make any rash judgments here, but Barcus also sent RBR-TVBR a similar image (see below), indicating the opposite was true.

RBR-TVBR observation: Certainly, if Barcus is right (or this happens eventually), the issue could fall into the “antitrust behavior zone,” similar to some of the dealings Microsoft had with DOJ in the late 90’s over abusing monopoly power on Intel-based PCs in its forced bundling of Windows operating system sales and IE web browser sales. Who knows — Apple may be gearing up top offer some master radio app of its own, as has been the rumor for a while now. Apple controls a lot of territory when it comes to the app market and if enough broadcasters complain to Apple and DOJ, the rule may be changed before any actual litigation. A radio station is a commercial entity in competition with others and its app is a way for it to reach listeners and gain revenues. A radio station app is certainly not a fart app. Contact us at [email protected] if your station’s app has been rejected.