According to a new rule included in Apple’s updated App Store guidelines earlier this year, apps created by using a commercialized template or app generation service won’t be allowed any more, a move aimed at helping rid the marketplace of low-quality clone and spam apps. As pointed out by TechCrunch however, the expanded policy enforcement is unfortunately wiping small businesses from the App Store.
“These app makers specifically target the small business market. They build apps for businesses that don’t have the internal resources to build their own apps or can’t afford to hire a custom shop to design a new iOS app from scratch.
As one app builder put it, the decision to limit these small businesses’ ability to compete on the App Store is as if a web hosting company said that they would no longer allow web pages built with WordPress templates or those made using website wizards from services like Wix or Squarespace.”
Since the move appears to be blocking a large number of small businesses from the App Store, it has now caught the attention of Congress. In a letter dated December 1, 2017, Congressman Ted W. Lieu has asked Apple to reconsider its expanded enforcement of its 4.2.6 and 4.3 guidelines. The former bans the template-based apps while the latter is more of a catch-all for banning spam.
The Congressman suggests that Apple is now casting “too wide a net” in its effort to remove spam and illegitimate apps from the App Store, and is “invalidating apps from longstanding and legitimate developers who pose no threat to the App Store’s integrity”.
It seems that what Apple is doing with its expanded ban of templated apps is the equivalent of preventing small businesses from being able to compete in the same ecosystem as the bigger brands. The company is yet to release an official comment regarding the matter.