updated 10:00 pm EDT, Wed March 18, 2009
Newber ceases development
FreedomVOICE Systems has announced that it will cease development of its Newber iPhone app, finally giving up after Apple has failed to provide an approval or denial after five months in the submission process. CEO Eric Thomas, in an open letter, expressed disappointment with the decision and the frustration with how the company has been treated by Apple. "I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that tarpitting us for six months by not talking to us at all will cause real harm," he said.
MacNN had a chance to talk to the Newber team at Macworld and CES in January. At that point, the app had just passed its three month point past the initial submission to Apple. The company had a way to track use of Newber, including testing, and server records showed that Apple's review team had not even used the app.
Newber provided an additional phone line, allowing a second 'business' number that links to the handset. Users could route calls to other mobile devices or landlines, potentially saving battery life or improving reception in fringe areas. GPS information enabled automatic redirection to the nearest configured location, such as office lines or home phones.
Thomas claims his company followed all of the submission guidelines and has not received any information from Apple as to why the application has not been reviewed. A simple rejection, although not an attractive option, would have provided an opportunity to rework the app or scrap the project before wasting money on promotions, but Apple has left Newber in limbo.
"In our case if they had even flat out rejected us six months ago we would not only have had the opportunity to save 50-100K on trade shows and marketing that we had to commit to but we could also have changed course and released on the BlackBerry," said Thomas.
"Because Apple won't accept Newber (nor tell us why), we've spent over $500K for R&D, architectural changes, patent application, and marketing that has accomplished next to nothing," he added. "I don't think you can do that to companies and expect others to continue to invest in your platform."