Dear App Stores: Don’t Block Apps - Lead With the Carrot Instead!

Microsoft blocked Polar from the App Store after I spent 2 weeks implementing the changes needed for their platform.

My crime? I didn’t use MS Edge for rendering web content - I used Electron.

Gasp! I know, right?! I’m truly evil!

Polar supports capturing content, annotating and caching it online for the user to annotate and keep even if the original site vanishes or their computer isn’t connected to the Internet.

We use Chromium within Electron to perform the capture and storage of the content.

But this is against the MS App Store policies. They force you to use MS Edge.

Let’s ignore for a moment that this might actually be might be anti-competitive (and possibly illegal) behavior.

Let’s also ignore how silly it that Microsoft is blocking a technology that the now actively develop - Electron.

Microsoft Actively Develops Electron!

Microsoft now owns Github and hence is one of the main developers of Electron.

They’re actively punishing people developing apps that use their own technology.

Let’s also ignore the fact that they’re abandoning Edge in favor of Chrome which ironically is what Electron uses for it’s rendering engine.

What I want to focus on is that this is a HARD block.

This is literally the only way that both Microsoft and Polar lose.

I’ve lost nearly 2 weeks of developer time trying to port my app and they just decide to kill it.

We both lose in this scenario. MS loses an app and I lose the opportunity to sell it on their platform.

Now I know what the Hacker News crowd is going to say.

They’re going to say that I just should’t distribute my apps in the App Stores. They’re going to argue that app stores are evil and that I can just distribute my app directly on my own site.

This misses out on one major issue and that’s customer volume.

Yes. I CAN do this but I’m missing out on a huge amount of traffic and potential users.

We’ve trained an entire generation to go to the app stores first when looking for new apps.

Additionally, I miss the opportunity to be ‘featured’. Becoming “app of the day” or in “editors picks” can yield a massive number of users.

Being featured as “app of the day” could yield 20-50k users overnight.

When I’m not in the app store I completely miss out on these opportunities.

Additionally, the users searching for app in the app stores have a strong intent to download and purchase. Much higher than normal web users. Running a SEM campaign within the app stores can have a very high conversion rate and be very cost effective.

When Microsoft kills my app I completely lose out on this opportunity .

Lead with the Carrot

OK. Enough ranting. What can we do about this to help remedy this issue?

Microsoft and Apple should stop instituting HARD blocks but should instead implement soft penalization which would effectively be more along the lines of a “carrot over stick” approach.

In this scenario they would approve my app but based on the severity of the infraction they could limit some features of the app store.

This could involve a 30% commission instead of say a 27% commission. They could also disable some features like analytics or simply delay my app for 24 hours after each submission.

This would be much better than a hard block and would be fairly easy to implement.

If you know anyone at Microsoft please consider emailing them this article or tweeting it as I’d like to get this resolved but Microsoft has rejected my appeal.