Pathable : Event App Technology Blog

Apple Rule 4.2.6 and Branded Mobile Event Apps

We wanted to touch base again regarding the recent rumors about Apple Rule 4.2.6. and answer questions about whether or not branded mobile event apps will be allowed on the App Store. We continue to hear from concerned event managers over email and in person at events, so we wanted to update you on Pathable’s stance.

We do not believe that branded event apps are dead. The Apple rule 4.2.6 will not affect Pathable’s ability to offer you high-quality, mobile event apps customized to your attendees’ needs. We will continue to offer you a branded solution that is easy to use, easy to manage, and easy to find on the App Store.

We’ve also heard that some app developers have decided to stop offering a branded solution. Instead, they are insisting to clients and prospects that event planners must house their event app inside a “Master” or “Universal” app. What this means is that instead of paying for an event app is that branded to your organization and event, the app would instead reflect that developer’s branding.

Pathable doesn’t believe this is a good experience for you. Definitely not a good user experience for your attendees.

You still have options, despite what you might be hearing.

Pathable’s Focus is on You and Your Attendees

We at Pathable Event Apps want to create safe, secure, and easy to use mobile event apps and event marketing tools for you and your attendees. And we promise never to take advantage of a situation where information that isn’t easily understood could be used against you as a planner. This last part especially is why we wanted to write another response to all the hearsay we’re hearing.

Because as you read blog posts and scaremongering emails or receive phone calls from universal app vendors, please remember this: Apple is notoriously secretive and rumors always abound. Nobody has any inside information. 

The 411 on the Apple Rule 4.2.6.

Many of the reactions and responses about the Apple regulation are based on reading the tea leaves (and then reading articles by other people reading tea leaves).

When everyone is saying the same thing, it can create an impression of a consensus, but if that consensus was all built from people who read the same source article, it is no more likely to be true than that single, original article.

That said, our prediction is that the recent interpretations of Rule 4.2.6 (“Apps created from a commercial template or app generation service will be rejected”) to mean that white label event apps will no longer have a home in the App Store is wrong.

The arguments against this interpretation can be grouped into two basic buckets:

  1. It doesn’t fit Apple’s goals
  2. It would create a bad customer experience

Apple’s Goals

Apple has a problem: whenever a new app becomes popular, thousands of copycats appear, hoping to ride the shirttails of a rising star. When Flappy Birds was the hit app, for example, more than 60 clones were submitted to the app store every day. 

Not only did that spell trouble for the hit app developers, but consumers looking for the “real” hit app became confused by the shoddy clones and were left unsure what to buy.

Apple customers having a hard time finding good apps in their App Store is a problem Apple needs to solve, and that is why they introduced Rule 4.2.6.

But while white label event apps may share functionality and layout, the fact that they are applying to different events means that they are no more “copycat” apps than checkers is a copycat of chess. Similar board, different game. 

White label event apps are irrelevant to the goals Apple had in mind when they implemented this rule.

Customer Experience

Apple has achieved its success through single-minded devotion to creating superb user experiences. But eliminating the white label event app would be just the opposite. Let’s quickly revisit our event apps analogy from our first article about this…

Apple wants people to quickly and easily find and install the apps that meet their needs.

Imagine that you want to attend Apple’s World-Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). You open the app store and search for the event by name, find it and install the app. Great experience!

Now imagine that Apple was stuck with a Universal App (i.e., a single, vendor-branded app that wraps up all their client’s events).

Now, you search for WWDC and find nothing. Instead, you have to go to the event’s web site, discover the name of the conference app vendor the planners contracted with, then go back to the app store, search for that vendor, install their app, open it, then search inside that app for the WWDC.

That experience is the opposite of superb. Event planners don’t want it, attendees don’t want it, and Apple doesn’t want it.

Pathable’s Experience with the new Apple regulation and Mobile Event Apps

Earlier this year, Pathable had a brief scare when a number of our apps were rejected by Apple because they alleged (incorrectly) that they were built in a way that allowed us to replace functionality after the app was approved. It took about two weeks, but in the end, Apple corrected their error and all our previously rejected apps were accepted.

But this episode should be re-assuring: ultimately Apple does what’s in the best interest of its users.

Apple has been fighting this battle for a long time, banning copycat apps since at least 2009. This is just the latest salvo in that battle. Rule 4.2.6 was introduced on June 6, since which time Apple has accepted dozens of Pathable’s white label event apps. We do not expect this to change.

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