The way to solve this is (going back to what I’ve been harping on) communication: good, well-written documentation and standards, internal training and discussion, external communication and explanation. And they’re not doing a great job of it right now, which opens them to criticism and second-guessing, and gives us excuses to assume the worst out of Apple, even though their track record is pretty good.
Chuq’s entire post is right on the money, but I think the problem at Apple is that they don’t believe that they have an obligation to explain or justify any decision they make. Explanations, when absolutely necessary, are someone else’s responsibility. It’s policy, but even if it wasn’t it was a good idea for maintaining your own sanity.
The rationale for this was that no matter how much explaining or communicating you do, some people will still complain loudly, continue to argue with you, and blog about the explanation. Some people just won’t be happy, so why spend the time and energy?
And truthfully, for a lot of things that Apple does, it’s a perfectly reasonable policy to take. If you really, really don’t like something that Apple is doing, get yourself another platform.
It’s very possible — perhaps likely — that the reason something like the $1000 worthless App made it through into the store and the cowbell app made it while the fart joke app didn’t is because different people made those decisions. Not a great, grand conspiracy, but multiple people on a team making judgement calls based on their understanding and interpretation of whatever rules and standards were set up for them.
I’m sure there are lots of people who would love to know what those rules and standards are, and why those rules are in place. But the last phrase of that paragraph is the crux of the matter here, and it leads to the ‘prime directive’ I learned very early when I was at Apple. I can’t tell you the number of times I was instructed to not answer any question that starts with ‘why’. How, what or who is fine, but never answer a ‘why’ question, because you don’t have the correct answer, even if you think you do.
And if you don’t agree with it or you don’t believe it, you quickly learn why this is the case. It has nothing to do with the threat of losing your job or being told to stop. When you say anything that attempts to explain a decision or policy, you instantly become the conduit into the company. People who disagree with you send you long dissertations as to why the decision is personally hurting them, their company, and society as a whole, and demand to know what can be done to change the policy. If your job entails something other than communication (like, say, implementing the decision) replying to those new complaints or even just politely replying ‘thanks’ can quickly consume all of your spare time. Let someone with a different job title deal with it. (Of course, I think Chuq would point out that there is no one at Apple with that title, but I think my point is still valid.)