Our DNA is written in Objective-C

The Definition of “YOU”


Apple apparently has begun to enforce a new rule when it comes to submitting new apps to the app store. You can no longer make an app for a client and submit it under your own developer account.

This is of consequence for two kinds of apps:

  1. apps that are truly owned by the client of a contractor
  2. apps that are owned by you but are branded or contain content under license from a third party

Often there are contractors who published apps under their own account because that saved the client from having to go through the process of establishing a paid Developer Program account.

BSA Banner

For the first kind the situation until now has been possible that your client would not have had to have a paid developer account. Until now I’ve only had clients ask me to set up an account for them if they wanted or needed to have their name show as the seller of the app in iTunes. Basically out of vanity, from the point of view of the contractor, because having to deal with a new developer account for each client was a bit of a hassle.

The second kind is less obvious. Say you make a Coca Cola Snowglobe app but plan to publish this as yourself. You cannot – any more. Apple now would require you that Coca Cola has a paid development account with them and you have to submit it through this. Which would be fine if Coca Cola indeed is the owner of the app and you where contracted to make it. But what if you licensed the branding from CC and plan to sell the app through your account?

These new rejections (with reason “Program License Agreement”) refer you to the iOS Developer Program License Agreement, a copy of which can be viewed in your membership center, under “Your Account” and “Legal Agreements”. There it says in section 1.2 under “You”.

“You” and “Your” means and refers to the person(s) or legal entity (whether the company, organization, educational institution, or governmental agency, instrumentality, or department) using the Apple Software or otherwise exercising rights under this Agreement. For the sake of clarity, You may authorize contractors to develop Applications on Your behalf, but any such Applications must be submitted under Your developer account.

When I tweeted about the responses ranged from outrage to approval.

“This is correct in my opinion!” – Doug Diskin

“Makes sense to me. The app belongs to the client. What would previously happen if they choose a new dev for updates? new app.”- Jamar Parris

“Why were you publishing them under your account in the first place? it’s their app; they should publish it.” – Dave DeLong

“Bad luck. I wonder if it affect licensed content too, e.g many branded dictionary apps are licensed despite appearances. Not all clients want to create their own dev accounts.” – Andy Roberts

“You’ve caused quite the stir in my office.” – Zaid Choudhary

“Why only get one $99 dev account when they can get at least two at twice the profit?” – Lee Sibbald

“Ah so like if I develop an app for target, apple will balk at it.  Interesting.” – Jerel Rocktaschel

“Bastardos!” – Anonymous

“Considering you don’t have to pay for uploading apps I think it’s the least they can expect from devs. It must also cut down on brand fraud. I knew someone who would prefix his apps with Facebook because it supported Facebook!” – Richard Warrender

“Ok, so effectively if company A wants an application, it has to be published by company A’s developer account?” – Chris Ross

“My issues with them dictating third party business relationships aside, I agree with this one as a practice.” – Randy

Don’t get me wrong, I am not damning Apple because there are good reasons for this new policy. One is that generally it is next to impossible to transfer an app from one developer account to another. So removing it from one and submitting it on another makes it a new app. The other reason is that a corporation might want to change contractors or move the development in-house at some stage. The reason of vanity is also still valid, who wants the developer’s individual name to show as the Seller? :-)

If you are actually the owner of the app but only licensed the looks or branding from a third party then you might find yourself doing the rejection tango. You will have to argue with the review team (or the higher authority the App Review Board) that the app is actually yours and that you are not just a contractor for it. You will – of course – have to produce the licensing agreement to prevent the problem of potentially infringing third-party-rights… but this is a different story.

Categories: Apple


  1. Hello Dr. Touch,

    yes I noticed too this approach from Apple. Effectively it is understandable especially after some experience with developing applications for companies and then distributing under the developer account (in such case not mine but of a co-developer). After years, once the iOS market has been consolidated and then companies need to strictly associate their apps with their company name in the App Store, some of the early customers asked me to re-compile the app and put it in the store. This implied to setup a new app name and change existing web services in order to guarantee a smooth switch-off of the old app and transitioning to the new one (e.g. by inviting customers of the old app to download the new one).
    Anyway Apple move now is that with a mature and consolidated market as the App Store some sort of early rules of the past cannot be applied: let’s see this new restriction as a way to avoid bad practices.

    Said that, we should consider that Apple doesn’t help very much the developers in doing this. So in order to submit the app for the customer and using customer account you must have his developer credentials. Building a team has no effect, has in order to be part of a team you must create a specific account and associated certificates that would be in conflict with the current one (you cannot add in a team an existing Apple ID associated to an existing iOS developer account). This is much worse when you must develop an app which includes push notifications or in app purchases, as in such case you must create the distribution provisioning profile using a complete bundle ID (no wildcards) and this requires the profile to be generated from customer developer account, again. They would easily fix this issue by allowing a restricted access to the customer account through an existing iOS developer account (e.g.: company with Apple ID “X” allows developer with Apple ID “Y” temporary access for all activities related to “com.app.company.X” application development)

  2. “One is that generally it is next to impossible to transfer an app from one developer account to another.”
    That is not a good reason for this policy, at best a lazy workaround. Transferring the internal AppStore inconsistencies and limitations into hoops to all the app devs to jump is actually multiplying the issue.

    Fix your store, Apple.

  3. For me it’s only a problem until Apple makes the whole code-sign / provisioning process much easier when you are a developer on various accounts.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: