My new app Startup Crawl, http://bit.ly/StartupCrawlApp, was just approved by the Apple App Review team. This is unremarkable and expected for a simple app. What is remarkable was how well and simple getting this app approved using the expedited review request proved to be.
Startup Crawl is a simple event directory app supporting the Startup Crawl tour during Austin’s Startup Week, October 8-12, http://atxstartupweek.com. The Crawl itself takes place on Thursday evening, October 11th, from 5 to 10 PM. The event promises to be a lot of fun and, I hope, results in new partners to work on my new startup idea with me.
The app was started by myself and Grayson Lawrence on September 15th. It was submitted to Apple on October 3rd, approved on October 9th. These dates are important. I submitted my prior app, Punch It Out™, http://bit.ly/PunchItOut, to the App Store on September 17th and it was approved on the 25th — 8 days. I had hoped to get Startup Crawl submitted earlier, the code was done on Monday, October 1st, but wrangling icons out of startups can sometimes be quite hard. Basically, by submitting the app on Wednesday, I was not giving Apple the same amount of time that they had used just two weeks previously.
I was concerned. If Apple was still swamped by the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 app approval flood, then Startup Crawl might not be available during the Crawl itself.
I’ve had my apps rejected by Apple before. Always this seems to be a straightforward but time consuming event. If your app is rejected, it can take Apple another 7 or more days to get back to your app. In other words, the penalty for shipping something lame is go to the back of the line. Because of this, Apple has implemented an expedited review process — an appeal, if you will. As I had been a good doobie and submitted the app just over 7 days before I needed it to be available, I felt I was a good candidate for an expedited review.
Apple granted that review and the app is now available to Startup Week participants.
What did I tell Apple to get this indulgence?
First, I’ve met the App Review staff at WWDC. They are nice people who get almost no respect. They are always “in the way” — between a developer and her market. But they are, nonetheless, people with feelings who make judgements that affect my future. Second, they “fight for the user” but they want you to succeed too. They want to approve your app. Third, approving my jumping in line means some other deserving developer’s app is not approved today. I have to show these folks why my need to access the market is more important than the other developer’s need, she works just as hard on her app as I do on mine.
Hence, I crafted my pitch in an email to AppReview@Apple.com as follows:
Gentle Apple App Reviewers,
I have written an app, Startup Crawl, id = xxxxxxxx8, that needs to be approved by close of business on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012.
Why? This app is providing a guide for the Austin, TX Startup Week Startup Crawl. The Crawl is on Thursday, October 11th, from 5 – 10 PM. Approving the app after the 10th or, at the latest, midday the 11th will be moot. No one needs an app that documents an event that has already occurred.
What have I done to help you, Apple App Reviewers, help the Austin Startup Community? We submitted the app on Wednesday, October 3rd. I believe this allows you your requested expected review time of seven (7) days. In other words, I am trying to keep Apple off of my critical path. The variance of app review times is unknown; due to the release of iPhone 5 and iOS 6, I expect it is longer than normal. I am alerting you to the firm deadline to my app’s utility. If we’re late …
Why would Apple want to help me? First, this app helps Apple iOS developers. It is sponsored by the local developer group, Cocoa Coders. (By sponsored, I mean I’ve donated my time developing this app to help the Cocoa Coder and Austin Startup community.) Second, due in part to the app, these developers and other Austin startups will have added visibility to the Austin angel investor, business partner and co-founder community. More developer and investor commitment to your platform only helps Apple. By approving this app, you help improve the developer opportunity in the Apple ecosystem.
Finally, I am trying to be proactive in alerting Apple to my situation. This is much better, I hope you agree, than being reactive after the fact and needing emergency attention.
I hope you can help me by slotting my app into your Wednesday or earlier approval queue.
And it worked. Almost. It got returned and I was told to resubmit it through the appropriate form: http://developer.apple.com/appstore/contact/appreviewteam/index.html. That worked.
First, don’t cry wolf for every app submission. I brought their attention to how I was working within their constraints and they honored that by approving this app.
Second, be nice. I’ve sat across the desk from these people trying to resolve a problem. Being nice helped.
Third, it isn’t all about you or Apple. It is about your joint customer. In my case, investors and partners using their phones to navigate downtown Austin in search of business opportunity.