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Apple’s Poor Handling of SCOtutor

Don McAllister, whom I interviewed on my podcast Welcome to the Internet, runs a Mac app training and tutorial business called ScreenCastsOnline where you can subscribe to (or buy individual) videos that detail what a particular Mac App might do.

Recently he developed a series of iPhone/iPad and Mac apps that took his training videos and moved them onto the two App Stores as a series of excellent apps devoted to teaching and informing, in particular, new Mac users about the wealth of great software available on the Mac and iOS platforms.

Screenshots of SCOtutor for Mac

Apple’s Sh*t Sandwich 1

Here’s the thing with the App Stores. Apple giveth and can taketh away. Don’s apps were happily in the App Store for a while, helping him recoup development costs and rising up the various sales charts. He posted an article last night detailing all that has gone on with his apps in the two App Stores:

Once I had recouped the original development and design costs, I made two titles free; “SCOtutor for iPad” and “SCOtutor for Mac”. These were aimed at brand new users of the iPad and Mac and were extremely popular, obviously even more so once I’d made them free, both reaching the top of the free Education charts. Each app has several hours of top quality education and were also unique, in that they were the only apps in the iOS App store with closed captions for accessibility.

This week Don’s iOS based SCOtutor apps have been pulled/rejected by Apple because they primarily contain a movie and as such should be submitted to the iTunes Store’s movie section – which is next to impossible for the average user to do because of the restrictions on submission:

As a side note, it’s impossible for me (or any other independent video trainer) to register to sell video tutorials directly in the iTunes store as suggested in the rejection statement, as I do not meet the requirements of “5 feature-length movies or documentaries that were released theatrically (or) 100 feature-length movies or documentaries that were either released theatrically or direct to video.”

As you can read in his blog post, Don’s tried various ways of adding more features to his apps (adding chapter markers, note taking, lesson lists) all at a cost to him in an attempt to appease the App Store reviewers, to no avail.

It’s really too bad that Apple is handling Don’s situation this way, particularly when:

despite this ruling a search for “video tutor” on the iOS App Store reveals 60 iPhone Apps and 50 iPad Apps are still available for sale on the iOS App Store.

Don’s really one of the good guys that Apple should be encouraging, helping and promoting. He does so much work helping and developing resources for new Mac & iOS users to ease their transition to the platforms – they should really just buy his videos and include them for free along with a new Mac purchase.

Instead they’re pushing him out and making him spend valuable time fighting with opaque App Store rules.


  1. With full credit to John Gruber