Apple Acknowledges App Store Name Squatting? Or Simply Spring Cleans

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have decided to clean house in the App Store and have started sending out notices to developers telling them that they will have their inactive app names deleted if they do not upload a binary within 90 days.

The “problem” of App Store name squatting has been discussed in developer circles for some time. Those that have had the very name they have chosen for their killer app “stolen” from them are convinced that it is a conspiracy and in some cases it may be. Most stories of alleged “App Name Squatting” actually trace back to a dev or two who bought the URL and the T-Shirts for their new app, and even commissioned artwork before checking if the name had been taken in Apple’s App Store.

As there is no official App Name market, like there are URL reselling sites, it is hard to see how anybody could benefit financially from “App Name Squatting”. And as Apple’s typical method of dealing with any kind of Patent or Trademark accusation in the App Store is to remove apps, it is hard to see how anyone could shake McDonalds down for that particular app name and the riches that would go with it!

More likely, and as has been admitted by many devs, people grabbed a few cool names and kept them dormant in their account. Most likely with the the genuine intent of using them one day for an idea they have. And whilst I personally have no problem with that, I can understand that seeing the only name that fits your particular iPhone masterpiece sitting dormant month after month may be galling!

It is possible of course that some people decided to sit on names in the hopes that an App Store reselling market would start up. Anyone who understands Apple would be surprised if they tolerated something like that – unless they were profiting from it of course! But in any case I am sure any that did think that they were going to get rich from hoarding app names will have long ago realised this is not going to happen, and will be quite happy to have their inactive portfolio cleaned out.

I actually have three names of apps I am working on right now stashed away ready for launch. I also bought the website, and the T-shirts, and commissioned art work. The apps won’t be out before Christmas this year, and have been in development since last year. I got a couple of these emails over the weekend, and to be fair Apple have no idea if I am seriously developing my apps or just sitting on a few strange names for kicks.

Whilst cleaning out dormant App Names from devs that are so rich from Fart Apps they will probably never write an App again seems a good idea on the surface. It does have serious implications for anyone who plans to develop an App of any depth, and with a development cycle longer than 90+ days.

Lets hope Apple addresses this flaw in an otherwise well meaning strategy. I recently reported this on my blog and have emailed Apple about my particular case. But as of the time of writing I have had no reply.

Do you think Apple’s policy makes sense? Or is it not so well thought out? Are you an “App Name Squatter”, or have you had your name “stolen” by one? Have your say in the comments…

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Stephen NorthcottApple Acknowledges App Store Name Squatting? Or Simply Spring Cleans
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  • Jason

    Register your app name and apple gives you 120 days to get it in store – CRAZY. With this attitude all they are going to be getting is trash apps. Quality apps need time, but I understand the need to stop name squatters – 1 years would be a more realistic timetable from registering until the name is made available again if not used.

  • Jason

    Register your app name and apple gives you 120 days to get it in store – CRAZY. With this attitude all they are going to be getting is trash apps. Quality apps need time, but I understand the need to stop name squatters – 1 years would be a more realistic timetable from registering until the name is made available again if not used.

    • Anonymous

      I tend to agree. Apps having to be developed in 120 days certainly does not lend itself to the kind of depth and quality that we would hope the App Store is aspiring to moving forwards.

      Although a time limit of any length (even unreasonably short) could be mitigated if Apple simply allowed people to justify their retaining of a name with a support request ticket and some uploaded artwork, or a related URL.

      I still have not heard back from them on this.

    • Anonymous

      I tend to agree. Apps having to be developed in 120 days certainly does not lend itself to the kind of depth and quality that we would hope the App Store is aspiring to moving forwards.

      Although a time limit of any length (even unreasonably short) could be mitigated if Apple simply allowed people to justify their retaining of a name with a support request ticket and some uploaded artwork, or a related URL.

      I still have not heard back from them on this.