Facebook App Developer Quits, Denounces App Store Approval Process

Former Facebook iPhone app developer, Joe Hewitt

Just yesterday I wrote a post recommending 4 ways for Apple to fix the App Store approval process. I warned that Apple’s tight control of the App Store would drive developers away.

Well, guess what happened today: Facebook for iPhone developer Joe Hewitt has quit the job in a decision he says “has had everything to do with Apple’s policies.”

The web is still unrestricted and free, and so I am returning to my roots as a web developer. In the long term, I would like to be able to say that I helped to make the web the best mobile platform available, rather than being part of the transition to a world where every developer must go through a middleman to get their software in the hands of users.

Several questions come to mind:

  • Why does Facebook have only one iPhone app developer?
  • Do the Facebook app’s numerous flaws have something to do with the long and tedious App Store approval process?
  • Who will replace Hewitt as the Facebook for iPhone developer? Will Facebook for iPhone get better or worse?
  • Will more developers ditch the iPhone? Will they flock to a more open mobile platform (i.e. Android)?

I hope two things happen as a result of this news:

  1. Apple fixes its App Store approval process. Read my 4 suggestions on how Apple should do that.
  2. Facebook appoints a team to work on its iPhone app, rather than a single individual.

I applaud Hewitt for taking a stand against Apple’s “Big Brother” approach to the App Store. I agree with Hewitt that the web is fundamentally free, and the mobile web should be as well.

Update: Facebook VP of Communications says that Facebook does not (officially) agree with Hewitt, and that a new team of developers will “take over iPhone related development.” Read the story on TechCrunch.

What Do You Think?

Was Hewitt right to quit his job as Facebook’s iPhone app developer? Will Apple finally fix (or remove) its App Store approval process? Let me know what you think in the comments.