You might have read that Instacast was rejected from the AppStore because of its Flattr integration. To get approved (and some vital bugfixes out to their users) the developer had to remove Flattr support from its app.
What’s in a click?
Core of the Instacast rejection case is the definition of a Flattr click. Is it a payment? Is it a donation? Or is it simply a flag that marks a piece of content to receive an equal part of your pre-paid and reserved funds at the end of the month?
Flattr is the best way forward for the economy around digital content.
The auto-flattr functionality in Instacast was a well-loved feature both by us and users.
Voluntary payments tied to specific activities like listening to a podcast, a song, reading an article or watching a video, rewarding creators based on usage – that’s how subscriptions should work (Spotify and Readability are taking a “same but different” approach here). Seamless, beautifully transparent and voluntary.
— Kai Blöcker (@ap0c) May 29, 2012
Apple is certainly not the only company going after app developers if they smell that money is changing hands near their ecosystem. Convincing corporations that Flattr is not competing with them is actually one of the biggest challenges we face.
The sad part is that it’s not Flattr who has to deal with the mess of rejection; it’s the app developers, the often one-man-team companies who have to go back , change their code, clear up the mess, then pray that the new version gets a go-ahead.
We tried to help out Martin (the developer of Instacast) as much as possible, but Apple remains notoriously hard to reach. Detailed information of how Flattr works, how and what it’s used for, what can be done (and can’t be done) using our API was sent to them but, as much as we can tell, ignored.
The Flattr iOS app and several other apps and services have been out there for quite some time (and remain so) without any problems at all. Apparently the fruit logo’ed company ignores the small fish and only swoops in when things grow big enough.
Apple doesn’t give prior notice about possible approval or rejection of an idea or implementation, so the only way for developers to find out is to gamble and guess about what’s OK. Getting approval in an earlier version doesn’t guarantee future approval; the Cupertino behemoth is known to change its mind.
Yes, Flattr has its flaws
Like many other cloud-based services and places where your data gets stored, our service is also centralized, true. But we’re fighting for the least bad centralization possible. We’ve arm-wrestled with our lawyers to get as simple as friendly terms of service as possible.
Unlike some big established payment providers, Flattr does not morally judge people and services that use our payment;, we leave this job to courts of law. We encourage competition and will beat them because we can do better.
There’s no Steve Jobs in our company responding to support emails, telling customers that it’s not a bug, or they’re using the service in a wrong way. If we’re snarky towards anyone then it’s people and businesses that want to infringe on the rights of our users.
So we have a simple message to Apple. Instead of the usual middle finger we point the index finger, the shame finger and are a little bit sadder today about the company we normally respect so much.
Stories covering the Flattr rejection by Apple:
GigaOM: Flattr: we’re victims of an ‘app dictatorship’
TheNextWeb: Duh: Apple doesn’t want Flattr money flowing through its apps if it can’t take a cut
VentureBeat: No 30 percent cut, no app: Apple to boot apps using Flattr’s micro-payments
Wired UK: Apple rejects apps that support micro-donation startup Flattr
Econsultancy: For Flattr, mobile becomes more of a barrier, less of an opportunity
AppleInsider: Apple rejecting apps with Flattr micro-payment integration
TechCrunch: Apple Rejects Apps Integrating Micro-Payments Service Flattr, Company Claims “It’s Not the End”
ArcticStartup: Apple Rejects Flattr Integration In Instacast App
CNET: Apple gives Flattr micro-payment the thumbs down