Apple vs the Radio Industry? Not Quite

Over the last 24-48 hours there has been some concern within the Radio industry about the apparent rejection of single radio station apps from the Apple App store.

Reading this post – http://radiomagonline.com/currents/news/apple_rejects_radio_apps_1122/ – by Jim Barcus the President of the company who’s apps are being rejected, you get the sense there is an issue for the entire industry.

However, that may not be the case.The next week will be the testing time, however it seems apparent that the apps in question all come from the same developer and are, in simple terms just the same app, redeployed with a different logo and a different live stream URL.

There are many many apps developed by this company which are essentially identical, except for that logo, stream and perhaps a feedback link.

I have to say, I’m not to fussed if Apple really have chosen to ban this type of thing.  The Apple App store thrives and is popular because of the rich apps that exist.  Yes there are many ‘flashlight apps’, but there are not 10 flashlight apps identical with different logos.

The Android Market on the other hand is full of simple, unimaginative apps because there are really simple tools available to make the apps without any knowledge of programming.

So, if this issue is in fact a message from Apple for Radio stations to submit apps that are more than just a live stream – good.  Bring it on.  We need to see Apps with rich content, cameras, podcasts, listen again, localised weather and news, streams, now playing – anything new, specific and innovative.

While ever there are apps being churned out that are essentially the same as each other, I don’t see any advantage to the radio industry or the stations themselves.

Imagine someone else brought out Angry Cats – and it was exactly the same game as Angry Birds, same levels same everything – More and more of those would just be spam and boring.

Here’s hoping for some clarity from Apple very soon..

UPDATE: 2.30pm: I’ve spoken with Apple, as have several developers and the situation,  while not crystal clear, is certainly very clear on principal.  There is no ‘ban’ on Single station Apps.

My own summary is that App developers submitting identical apps with just a logo/stream change under their own developer accounts are not looked well upon. (and if you take the time to download a few of this chap’s apps, you’ll see how uninspiring they are, and similar too)

However, if a station has an app developed, and submitted under their own name, it should breeze through.

Likewise, if an individual or group create an app that links to a single station stream or show, it might face some hurdles.

From a station owner perspective I think that’s a good thing – but, from Apples point of view, good on them for ‘encouraging’ the development of rich apps with a user experience that is more than ‘just a stream’ – in the end, if it was ‘just a stream’ the industry won’t survive!

Moral of this story for Radio stations – be creative, own the rights, own the application submission.



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  3. Fred

    November 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    But why should every radio station need to get their own apple developers account to have a single station app? They shouldnt need to at all. They should be able to get an app made by a reputable company that specializes in radio station apps. There is only so many ways to put a volume control on an app. of course the apps are going to look similar. Apple only cares to make that $99.00 from each station in order to get their app approved.

    • Anonymous

      November 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      It’s not smart business otherwise from the Radio Station point of view.nnIF you leave it to a developer to submit and manage, what happens if you find a better developer, you need to go through a long process to have the other developer remove the old app.nnPlus, you don’t get direct access to the stats and information about your app.nnLeaving it to a developer to submit is a bad move, and seriously, $99 – if you’re not willing to invest that in your App, you shouldn’t be in the game.nnTrevor

      • Pkheadoffice

        November 25, 2010 at 10:13 am

        I think on a national level all these can look the same but locally the local listeners see it as thier app. not many big multinationals understand the relationship a local station has with its listeners. Maybe apple are planning to put FM radios in iphones and I pads, that would be a great move

  4. Skip

    November 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Ultimately we shouldn’t need an app to simply listen to a web stream, as HTML5 native audio capabilities (codec plug-ins) are deployed across different browsers. Hopefully the Safari mobile browser will at least support MP3 and AAC-family soon…

    • Anonymous

      November 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      True, but the iPhone and other good smartphones are about simplicity.nnHard to argue with the brilliance of Tune In Radio – a great app. nnSo stations need to find great content, engage their audiences – and they want to do that in their own environment, and an app allows a better experience than the mobile web.nnTrevor

  5. Allison

    November 24, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Would the radio industry ban the American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest across the nation because it is “the same programming with different commercials running in the breaks”? no – because the content is relevant no matter where you go, and the top 40 is a universal brand appealing to everyone. nnSo maybe each radio station is not universally appealing across the nation, but is appealing to the people in the market, which that station serves. That is just it…. the content is DIFFERENT and that is the driving force – its not the app that people are downloading, its the station. who cares if a station in Dallas has the same app as one in Toronto? the content is different, and it appeals to the people in that particular market. and if I was someone in Toronto downloading my favorite radio station app, i really wouldn’t care if it was the same app as somewhere else – because I only care that I am able to listen to my station.nnLets call a spade a spade. Apple had some issue with DJB apps, and I agree its not exactly a robust app, but people download it for the station – not for the app – and enjoy them on their iphones because it gives them the chance to listen to their favorite radio station on their phone. Who is apple to deny them that?

    • Anonymous

      November 24, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.nnIf the Developer controls the App within the Store, they can remove it at any time (lets say you have a falling out), and they get all the stats.nnAND, if you have a new developer you can’t ‘upgrade’ your older App.nnAnd this DOES happen. Stations change developers. If 200,000 people downloaded the original app, and a NEW app is developed by a separate submission because the original developer isn’t the developer of the New app – those 200,000 people do NOT get notification of the upgrade.nnApple have long said to Developers they don’t look well on Developers submitting apps for clients, the clients should always control it.nnIf you want to be serious about Mobile and Apps, get your developer to setup an account submit through your own station account..nnTrevor

  6. Frank Iuston

    November 25, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I’m with you Trevor, I love the Tune In Radio app. When I’m home I run the wi-fi through it and can listen to stations like WFMX for example from the states who are running the 80’s versions of the old Casey Kasem American Top 40! Also very handy out and about for the same reason and doesn’t use up too much 3G data at all! Also very impressed with the fact it can also record any station being received for later listening.nnCheers,nFrankstern

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  8. Anonymous

    November 26, 2010 at 4:19 am

    No No Alison, you don’t need to do the DEVELOPING yourself, you just need your DEVELOPER to take the time to set you up an account for the app submission.nnNo problem submitting a PLAY ONLY app, go for it, but then in future if you want to expand on that – you’ll need to be sure the thousands who have downloaded it can get a quick update, and you can only get that if you control the developer account for submission.nnYour developer – whoever they are, just uses your account to submit/update.nnIts common sense once you realise the implications.nnTrevor

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  12. Safran

    November 27, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Trevor: Thank you for doing the legwork on this. We picked up on the story at Lost Remote, and are in your debt for getting the details and essentially debunking the story. It’s the last time we’ll base an article on one guy’s letter to the editor…nnSteve SafrannEditor-In-ChiefnLost Remote

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  15. Andrew Kuklewicz

    November 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Great article – thanks for being the first to get the real scoop, I have my own round-up of the discussion (and a few new wrinkles) here:nhttp://labs.prx.org/2010/11/27/iphone-radio-apps-are-not-banned/

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