The author of bookseller Kobo’s iOS application was forced to review his own application in the App Store in order to tell customers why features were removed from the App.
A number of booksellers were forced to remove any links to their own stores from their e-reader applications following an Apple crackdown on the practice. Among them apps from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and the Wall Street Journal were updated to remove features.
Kobo developer Jim Dovey expressed his exasperation at the "immense amount of vitriol" appearing in iTunes Store reviews of the Kobo application following Kobo’s apparent decision to remove functionality including the in-app store.
"I posted a ‘review’ of my own, explaining the decision. I felt this was about the only way I could let people know that we haven’t just decided, capriciously, to yank features from the app," Dovey explained on his blog.
"The store was removed because Apple rejected any updates which included it, period. They also rejected any updates which stated that Apple required its removal, or indeed any mention of ‘compliance with App Store guidelines’," he wrote in the review.
"It was further rejected for the cardinal sin of allowing users to create a Kobo account within the app. Then it was rejected for providing a link to let users create an account outside the app."
"Then it was rejected for simply mentioning that it was possible to sign up, with no direction on where or how one could do that," Dovey added.
Rapidly reaching the point of parody, Dovey then said that the Kobo application was rejected for making any mention of Kobo’s website and then, Dovey claims, rejected again for merely saying "our website" using any language.
He also said that Apple asserted that Kobo may not "make any assertions that Kobo provides content for sale, however obliquely."
The Kobo developer also noted that the Barnes and Nobel application was not subject to the same conditions. Indeed the Barnes and Nobel application managed to include a "What’s New in Version 2.1.2" update which stated:
"You can read any Nnook Book you have purchased on this updated Nook for iPhone app, however the Shop link has been removed so to buy Nook Books from your iPhone, open your Safari browser and go to nookbooks.com. "
Dovey described the rejection of any mention of Kobo’s website as "all the more amusing" given that the Barnes and Nobel application was "built from the exact same source code, with a different colour scheme and titles."
Approvals of the revised Kobo application were rescinded ‘from above’, Dovey said.The App has since apparently been approved having been allowed to simply state: "We have removed the Kobo Store from within the application. You can continue to shop at our website."
One angry Kobo app user condemned Apple in a review of the app saying: "forcing Kobo to disable its in-app store is a disgrace," adding that Kobo "would be excused for abandoning IOS altogether."