Should Application Storefronts Allow App Name Duplication?

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glucose tracker in app world
“Glucose Tracker” search results in App World

It looks like App World is the only major smartphone storefront to allow for app name duplication. A search of “glucose tracker” in App World, App Store and the Android Market, reveals that only BlackBerry returns the same app name from two different companies. It’s not clear whether this is an oversight on RIM’s part, or if the company is taking a stance on the issue by allowing app name duplication.

On the one hand, this can cause some headaches with two companies confusing marketing efforts, or having their support lines crossed by users unsure of which company to contact. From a user perspective, it’s not much of a concern because you generally make your app download/purchase decision based on other factors such as reviews, recommendations and price.

glucose tracker iphone
“Glucose Tracker” search results in the App Store

As you can see, Apple’s policy is to give precedence for app names and does not allow two companies to have the same app name. The iPhone Developer Legal Guide states: “You should rethink your application’s name if there is already a similarly named application in the App Store.” The iTunes Developer Guide reads:

Do not include the names of other applications in the description for your application or application keywords. Referencing other applications in your application description and keywords can be considered an attempt to fix search results and is not advised

Please do not use competing app names or inappropriate words for your keywords.

glucose tracker
“Glucose Tracker” search results in the Android Market

The Android Market seems to be making sure that apps don’t have the same name as well.

One possible side effect of app name exclusivity is “name squatting”, where developers may rush to create an app called “glucose tracker” with the intent of reserving the name, and less concern with providing value to the user. Domain squatting is a similar industry, where domain buyers register valuable names in order to resell them.

From this official support forum thread, it looks like developers are a little split on this issue. Follow the conversation yourself at this link.

  • Jckgffnnv

    Thank you for this article! It is an issue that I’ve been battling with RIM for a few months now. I have an App which we invested a ton of time and money in order to get to be a real and popular product. So much so that we hit at least 6 top 10 lists and a major book publisher (Wiley Publications) asked if they could include a page about our App.

    This name recognition started to help sales and we were able to invest in a forum, customer service, bug fixes and new releases. This success led to a pirate from overseas putting up a “me too” app with the identical name.

    While I embrace competition, this is more about developing a brand. After doing working with iTunes over the past few years, I know that your app will get rejected if 1) your app has the same functionality and 2) has the same name.

    In wanting to have the developer community flourish, they have taken away the hurdles that developers may face by implementing this strict policy. Developers, for example, won’t have to pay $500 in trademark lawyer fees and wait 1.5 years to legally do battle. Additionally, Apple does not want confusion on their store. Anyone, afterall, can study a successful app and just mimic the code and slap it up on the store with the same title.

    In my opinion, this is just one example as to why the Blackberry is failing. Their attitude of “we are the best” has caused them to lose market share at all levels. Additionally, they don’t embrace developers as partners and, as a result, don’t have as many Apps to sell. They have lost out on the win-win ethic that Apple continues to display.

    Thanks again for the write-up. I am in the process of working with two lawyers because of RIM’s lack of forsight.

  • Anonymous

    RIM is a very stubborn company. They wouldn’t have lost so much market share had they been more customer focused.

    Instead of discouraging developers, they should do everything that they can in order to expand partnerships. As it is, when you hear the word “app”, you think Apple.

    I am going to now check to see if my Apps on Blackberry App World have been a victim of pirates stealing my ideas and app names. I know that I don’t have to check this with the iTunes store since apps get rejected for these reasons.

    Thanks for the insightful article.