Fartomin has been rejected by Apple, and so has my appeal to their review board. You can read their reasoning below, followed by my appeal and afterthoughts:
Aug 29, 2011 02:54 PM. From Apple.
Thank you for submitting an appeal to the App Review Board for the review of your app, Fartomin.
We have completed the evaluation of your appeal and have determined that the review findings of 08/25/2011 are appropriate for Fartomin.
Because the primary content and functionality of your app focuses on farts, your app is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines <http://developer.apple.com/appstore/resources/approval/guidelines.html>
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
We recognize that there is a wide range in the quality of apps of this genre and that yours may be of better quality than many others out there. Or, it may include features or characteristics that distinguish it as more than just a fart app – or even something other than a fart app. But if a feature or set of features in your app focuses on farts or aspects of farts and farting, in spite of other features or qualities it may also include, it fits the category of fart app. And, at the end of the day, we simply have enough fart apps in the App Store.
For these reasons, your app will not be posted to the App Store. We appreciate the time and resources you have committed to iOS development and we hope you will consider alternate app concepts to apply your efforts to.
To which I added the final statement:
Aug 29, 2011 04:17 PM Daniel Finlay, firstname.lastname@example.org
Well then do future developers the courtesy of changing the wording from “may be rejected” to “will be rejected, for subject alone.” The uncertain wording gave me hope that my originality would earn me an exception, but it doesn’t seem like it held any weight at all.
I’d now like to take a few minutes to let off some steam and thoughts about this whole situation:
When I’d started this, I knew it was a one-off joke. I knew that it was simple, I knew it was base. I knew that there are seemingly more noble causes in the world. But I also knew that people love to laugh, and people have historically proven their love of farts with countless fart app downloads, whoopee-cushion purchases, fart-spray, stink-bombs, remote control whoopee-cushions, you name it.
When I first had the idea for Fartomin, I knew full well that the App Store had plenty of fart apps. I knew Apple had said they needed no more. I just knew that I had an original idea, and what I believed was a better implementation than had ever been seen before. To me it seemed obvious that while individual moral values may look down their noses at this endeavor, the digital distribution enabled by the internet could enable so many people to extract joy from a simple app, that it could really be worthwhile.
I come from an improv comedy background, and in improv, getting a room of 100 people can seem like hitting it out of the ballpark. It didn’t seem like such crazy math to me that if I could make a million people laugh, just once, I would have over-shadowed my 11 years doing improv with that simple endeavor.
Apple clearly thinks making this app was a waste of my time, but when I do the cost-benefit analysis, had this been accepted and embraced by users, it would have made everything else that I’ve done look like a waste of time.
You see, while I have fantasies of saving the world, at heart I’ve always been an entertainer, and making a person laugh has pretty much been the highest ideal for me. From my perspective, by rejecting my app, Apple has prevented untold throngs of people from giggling with glee as they freely create the never-ending-fart of their dreams (or nightmares).
It may be a simple joy, but now Apple has the final word on “usefulness to humanity,” and we have to just hope that they know what’s best for us. Apple says you should be looking at pictures of your friends, and reading newspapers, but certainly not extracting more than the mandated portion of joy from farts. They decided for you!
I took up programming because as an artist, the internet seems to afford new avenues of discovery, but it has not offered many new avenues of payment. A burgeoning sketch comedy group is going to have a hard time going full time off T-Shirt sales. A lot of YouTube hits means squat in the bank account, and that’s a problem.
The App Store sells apps, but no online store sells comedy sketches, original documentaries, and independent albums. If there were a place where artists could make even a nominal fee per view, we might change entertainment in a big way. How about a monthly subscription, where your fees are divided up amongst the media you enjoyed that month? All-you-can-eat, yet supporting independent artists? Just a thought.
So what’s a funny guy supposed to do? Make a funny app? It’s one of the last forms of intellectual property that an artist can make that ensure their audience will pay for it, and you can do it all yourself, which feels empowering, until you get to that final step, where Apple decides what goes and what doesn’t.
What we need more than anything is an un-curated space for the arts, where artists are paid based on merit and audience, and might be funded to continue the work that is bringing so many joy.
Because what is self reliance, if you’ve got Big Brother there to trip you up at the last step of your journey?
Now I’ve got a lot of deciding to do. Do I port to Android, or do I start the next project- which helps the disabled? If an Android port were successful, the revenue could help the next project.