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Newber ceases development after 5 month review delay

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."

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Maybe it's vaporware?

    They have slick marketing, but why isn't there actual video of someone using the app? One of their developers, someone at CES? All they show is some Flash video animation... I think this is a bogus excuse for vaporware...

  1. hansmickle

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If the facts are as stated, this is another sad commentary on Apple's integrity. There seems to be more and more evidence their commitment to users and to excellence in general is slipping.

    So sad!

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It seems like a

    cool idea, but I'm sure there is some sort of conflict of interest with regard to Apple's contractual agreement with AT&T (the death star company).

    "avoid using your" minutes.

    A fairly obvious reason Apple should not be the only source for user installable iPhone apps on unjaibroken iphones.

  1. hansmickle

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Flying Meat

    That is conjecture, but even if factual it does not excuse five months during which it was claimed that Apple provided no response.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I call BS.

    I think this is a publicity stunt. If it's been that long, they would have contacted Apple to see why.

    You've got to be pretty stupid to just leave your app in review for six months without contacting Apple at all to see what is up.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: I call BS

    Maybe they have contacted Apple. And still heard nothing.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    And he's right

    Apple needs to spell out the rules more clearly. Their whole secretive approval process just makes it harder to make sure you aren't wasting your money on your app.

    On top of that is Apple's rules about not duplicating functionality or the like. Can't make a mail app, because Apple already has a mail app. Spend your time developing an app, then find out Apple has decided it is something they want to do, or Apple has partnered with someone to do, or some other developer has already submitted, so they reject yours, regardless of the time you've put into it.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I know

    What he should have done was added a bunch of beer drinking graphics and farting sounds to it. Then the Apple engineers would have looked at it much quicker!

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Make it so

    I had to give testudo a thumbs up on his cynical comment about adding beer drinking and farting sounds. I think Apple's lack of communication is either they are too short handed to response review this app, or more likely, it has potential legal problems so it was pasted to their legal team. If the latter is the case then either they are short handed or this is one of those things they are talking to ATT about or with their legal arm and they have a dozen calls in to CEOs, dept. heads, etc. and none of them have the time so they pass it on to someone else.

    At the very least, Apple should have something in place to communicate where the approve process is and if there is a delay, what the issues are.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    98% response in 7 days

    According to Scott Forstall's claim (at the keynote Tuesday), they responded to 98% of all app submissions within 7 days. That leaves some 500 apps outside of that 7-day range. Out of these 500, how many have fallen through the cracks?

    App store levels the playing field, much like the web did for retail sales. One-man shop has same treatment as Oracle. Obviously, majority of those 25,000 apps out there are one-man shops. Out of the 500 that took more than 7 days, how many are large development teams? It is one thing if you're a lone developer waiting for an answer from Apple; it's entirely different if you are paying salaries to staff while waiting for your App to start selling. Someone at this company dropped the ball by just sitting there, waiting for Apple. There is no way Apple would have completely ignored any and all correspondence from a software development company (regardless of size) for six months.

    If you are expecting something from someone, and that someone doesn't deliver within a week or two, you begin following up and escalating. Somehow, I feel they failed to do that and are now pinning the blame squarely on Apple, without taking at least some of it.

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