10 apps an hour

/ 22 August 2009

Yesterday Apple released its letter to the FCC answering questions about the app store. Among many claims I consider disingenuous at best (really, you never discuss apps with AT&T?) Apple did let a few facts about the app approval process into the light. Let’s do some math.

There are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly. … We receive about 8,500 new applications and updates every week, and roughly 20% of them are not approved as originally submitted. In little more than a year, we have reviewed more than 200,000 applications and updates.

First of all, if each app is reviewed by two staff that means there are effectively twice as many apps being reviewed. 8500 * 2 / 40 staff / 5 days per week / 8 hours per day = a bit more than 10 apps/hour/staff. Each staff member is trying to review an app every six minutes. Every hour. Every day. That’s got to be a bit mind-numbing, to say the least.

And we know this is only going to get worse. Apple tells us that they are now reviewing 8,500 apps per week, but in the last year they’ve only reviewed 200,000 apps. 8500 * 52 weeks = 442,000 apps, though. This means that earlier in the year there were not as many apps, this hints at quite a strong growth curve, something we know from other reports and just from watching the app store is true. As I’ve said before, Apple just cannot sustain this effort.

I thing Apple will either have to loosen up on the app store or provide other ways to get apps onto devices. Alex and I are considering writing an app to help manage DFL convention registration from iPhones. We will have to waste Apple’s time getting this app approved even though it is unlikely to ever be used by more than a dozen volunteers. This makes little sense. Apple either has to let apps fly or it will be slowly strangling the iPhone. I doubt it will strangle the phone.

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