Developer's iPhone boycott rates an answer from Phil Schiller

First, there was the Ninjawords dictionary, and it was good. Well, it would have been good, except it self-bowdlerized in an effort to get accepted into the App Store; and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Then, in response to said gnashing/wailing, a voice spoke out of the cloud: Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, sent an on-the-record email to John Gruber discussing the situation. More than the actual explanation (which had to do with the timing of parental controls on 3.0 vs. the release date of this app, and the choice by the developers to clear out the dirty words rather than wait for the option of a 17+ rating), the simple fact of a top Apple exec speaking with some frankness and detail about App Store approvals, to someone with a fairly large soapbox, was quite astonishing.

Now, it seems that Mr. Schiller has clearly located the Send button in, because another Philogram has landed in a prominent mailbox. Steven Frank, a co-founder of Mac developer Panic, had announced on his personal blog last week that the Google Voice rejections were the last straw: he was boycotting the iPhone on principle until things straightened out in the App Store. Although Frank is not an iPhone developer, he is an iPhone owner and user.

Over the weekend, much to his shock and surprise, he got an email from Phil. While the full content hasn't been published, the gist was "we're working on it" with regard to the App Store issues.

One point in the email that Frank received which he did repeat has to do with ebook app approvals, a subject we wrote about one week ago. While we were told by the developer of a rejected ebook app that his rejection notice cited the entire category of ebooks on the store, Apple PR quickly responded -- and Phil reiterated to Steven -- that the company continues to approve ebook readers and ebook titles to the App Store. In the case of the app in question, apparently the possibility of iPhone-to-iPhone sharing of book titles was what triggered the rejection, and the rejection email overstated the case and set off alarm bells.

Is this enough to reverse the one-man boycott [as our commenters note, Michael Arrington and Om Malik have also publicly disavowed the iPhone]? Maybe, maybe not. It's one thing to talk about changes and improvements, but another to actually achieve them on the ground and in the store. As an addendum to his post, Frank notes:

Upon further reflection, I think the true litmus test will be how Apple and AT&T formally respond to the FCC inquiry about Google Voice. That is due no later than the 21st; a week from Friday. That decision really cuts to the crux of the whole thing for me, and the great thing (for us users) is everyone has to come out and say something about what happened. No more speculation.

If sending personal emails to people who are frustrated about the App Store is now an official part of Phil Schiller's job description, he may be pretty busy over the next few weeks.

[via Techmeme]