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App Store approval math

Apple, in its response to the FCC regarding App Store rejections, states:

There are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly. … We receive about 8,500 new applications and updates every week….

Math time!

First, some assumptions:

  • Two reviewers study each app, but let’s assume that the second review is not as thorough as the first; for example, the second reviewer may be given a list of areas the first reviewer would like a second set of eyes on. So let’s consider the app store to have a single reviewer for each app, but only 30 reviewers.
  • Reviewers work five days per week, eight hours per day.

(Changes to these assumptions will naturally change the below result a little, but I don’t think there’s room for order-of-magnitude changes here.)

So we have 8500 new apps per week. Divided by 30 reviewers gives us 283 apps per reviewer per week. Divided by 5 days per week gives us 57 apps per day. Divided by 8 hours per day gives us 7 apps per hour. Sixty minutes per hour divided by that number gives us 8½ minutes spent reviewing each app submission.

(Edited to add: If you think a more realistic work schedule would be six days per week, ten hours per day, we get 12¾ minutes per submission.)

I’m a big fan of the iPhone as a consumer. But if I were an app developer, I’d compare that number to my expected developer-hours (rather, -months or -years), and consider the inconsistent review results, arbitrary rejection reasons, and lack of transparency into the process, and think very hard before committing much effort to the platform.