The Windows Phone Marketplace takes time to accept and reject your app based on their rules much like most other app stores on the mobile landscape. There have been many debates on the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach, but what we usually do agree upon in the community is that there is a need for consistency and rationality in enforcing those rules.
I’m writing this because just today an update of Toshl for Windows Phone 7 got rejected by the Marketplace staff. The reason: multiple iPhone references in the app. We all looked in confusion as none of us could recall any iPhone references in the app nor in the description. It was also only a minor update fixing a few bugs, so there were no UI changes where iPhone references could have crept in. Previous versions which were identical UI-wise got accepted without any problems.
To quote the rejection:
If an application depicts any mobile or wired telephone, handheld PDA, or any other data and voice communicator, it must be either generic or a Windows Phone device
Your application failed the Marketplace prohibited application policy check. Please review the above policy, notes below (if applicable), update and re-submit your application.
It appears there are multiple reference to the iPhone in the application. Please modify so that the mobile device is a Windows Phone or a generic mobile device.
Searching through the app all we found that even remotely resembled an iPhone was an error image where the Toshl dog is holding a phone in his hand. While it’s true that there’s only one button under the screen, the shape could depict almost any touch-based phone. In other words, generic.
Here’s how the error image looked like:
In the absence of a good feedback channel and in the quest for the quickest solution possible to get the fixes to Toshl users we decided to change the design to look more Windows Phone-ey:
We’re waiting for the results of the second review process. To be honest this whole issue seems quite silly and unfounded. If only they paid this much critical attention to the apps with poor UIs and user experiences the Marketplace would be a lot nicer place. So, what’s your opinion, was the phone image generic enough or not? Do you think the Marketplace rules are too strict or inconsistent?
Update (26. 8. 2011)
We’ve posted about this problem to Microsoft’s Ben Riga on Twitter and he was quick with the response and letting the Marketplace team know about this issue.
Here’s the respose from the Marketplace team:
The device containing strong similarities to the iPhone was found on the page depicted on your blogpost. While it does have strong similarities, it is a generic device and thus should not have failed during certification. We apologize for that inconvenience as well as the lack of direct information in the test report. In the future, feel free to also submit support requests from your App Hub account and you can expect prompt responses from the support team.
So all is well that ends well I guess. It’s good to know that Microsoft is responsive about such issues. But in the vein of a never 100% satisfied person I have to add: If only they would add Slovenia to the list of countries from where developers could actually have their own accounts, our development lives would be much easier.
Written by Matic Bitenc