Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aljazeera launches mobile apps from mystery developer

One has to wonder what goes on behind the scene at Apple during their application approval process. Do they simply play that game of throwing playing cards into trash cans, one marked 'yes', one marked 'no?'

That was my thoughts when I saw today that  a couple of apps, supposedly from Aljazeera, the international news organization out of Qatar, had launched in the iTunes app store.

The iPad app promises that it delivers live broadcasts, with video quality determined by your Internet connection speed. It also allows for offline reading.
The mystery, however, is how did these apps make it through the approval process?

The mystery begins and ends not with the news service -- I'll leave that controversy to the Glenn Beck crowd -- the mystery is who is this developer?

The app lists AppInvention LLC as the developer, yet clicking the developer website in iTunes simply brings up a page that says "Coming Soon" that then bounces immediately to a Facebook page that offers up nothing except notices that the apps have launched.

A Google search turns up a Twitter page that lists zero followers and zero follows, plus the same launch announcements. All the launch announcements are linked to iTunes, not a website or contact information.

Finally, who owns this website that is supposedly "coming soon"? Who knows? A Who Is search turns up nothing.

On Tuesday I wrote yet another post where I begged Apple to hire grown ups to manage their media relations -- not concerning PR, which Apple is making a mess of, as well -- but relations with their media partners that are producing applications for the iPhone and iPad. Things are completely out of hand, and this is just one more example. Apple should not have allowed this app to go live until the developer had launched a functioning website. (This problem is compounded by the fact that the supposed link to an iJazeera support page -- which is supposed to go to the media company -- also goes to the developers Facebook page, meaning that one can not be sure that Aljazeera is even behind this app. It's possible that Aljazeera's brand has simply been hijacked.)

This app may be legit, the developer may be legit, but who can tell? To me this looks bad, and once again Apple's app approval process looks completely out of control.