There’s been a lot of talk about BBM going cross-platform since it was announced at BlackBerry Live 2013, but the conversation has largely been centered around whether BBM going cross-platform is good for device sales. The real question people should be asking, especially employees of BlackBerry, is whether they’ll be able to get in the App Store in the first place. There are several App Store submission guidelines that BBM violates, as well as the ultimate guideline which is “whatever Apple wants.”
2.11 Apps that duplicate Apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them, such as fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra Apps.
This is one of the guidlines that BlackBerry might get tripped on. Sure, there’s room for another messaging app in the App Store, any consumer will agree with that, but what if Apple decides that BBM is coming too late into the game and isn’t differentiated enough to merit being accepted? That’s a possibility that BlackBerry hopefully has an answer for.
3.1 Apps or metadata that mentions the name of any other mobile platform will be rejected.
It’s pretty clear that this guideline is meant to prevent trademark infringement but it could also be a defensive mechanism to allow Apple to restrict mentions of other platforms on its device. Since the goal of BBM on iOS is to essentially steal marketshare, Apple could leverage this guideline to deny BlackBerry entry to the App Store.
2.12 Apps that are not very useful, are simply web sites bundled as apps, or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected.
Of course BBM is a useful app, but the issue here is that Apple often uses this guideline to deny apps that compete with native functionality of the device. Since BBM competes directly with iMessage and FaceTime, Apple could deny BBM.
The end of the document is the real kicker though, it states that it is a “living document that will evolve as we are presented with new Apps and situations, and we’ll update it periodically to reflect these changes.”
The end of the document is pretty much saying “these are just guidelines and we reserve the right to deny anyone for whatever reason.”
BlackBerry has been pretty open about the fact that BBM for iOS is a way of increasing market share for BlackBerry and giving users more reasons to go to BlackBerry. So why would Apple approve the app at all? What is BlackBerry’s plan B? If I were Apple, I would simply deny BlackBerry because it would force Thorsten to explain to shareholders how they promised BBM on iOS and couldn’t deliver. It would send the stock price down and it would simply be a good business move for Apple to screw the competition.