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Ex-App Store review chief discusses Apple competing with developers

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The former Apple executive in charge of approving apps for the company’s App Store is worried that the iPhone maker’s increased focus on developing its own services could lead to a conflict between the firm and its massive stable of third-party app developers.

Phillip Shoemaker, a former senior director at Apple who oversaw the App Store review program, recently spoke with Bloomberg about the company’s shift to services. “There is now a conflict as Apple goes into these spaces that are ripe with competition,” he said during the publication’s Decrypted podcast. “I’m really worried about the competition.”

Shoemaker’s comments come after Apple removed several screen time management apps from the App Store following the launch its own similar tool last fall, which a New York Times report pointed out. App makers quoted in the Times’ story believed they were being targeted because their apps compete with Apple’s Screen Time feature, but the company said it removed these apps over consumer privacy concerns.

It highlights the potential conflict that could emerge now that Apple is more aggressively seeking to bolster its growing services business, which generated $11.5 billion in revenue in the company’s second fiscal quarter, to offset slowing iPhone sales.

This was clearer than ever in March when Apple held a special event to debut new digital magazine and entertainment subscription services that will be available across iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. The move could help Apple pull in more revenue from devices like iPhones and iPads that are already in use rather than selling new ones, but it also requires the company to foster relationships with developers and partners.

Shoemaker also discussed Apple’s stance on competing services in the iPhone’s early days, such as when it initially rejected Google’s Voice app back in 2009. “That was a real thing,” Shoemaker said to Bloomberg. “I mean the fear that somebody would come along, a Facebook, a Google, whomever and wipe off and remove all of our items. Once they started using these other apps, they’d be thinking more about Google now.”

Apple is scheduled to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week on June 3, where it’s expected to unveil new features for the iPhone, Apple Watch, and other products while also encouraging developers to continue building new apps for its devices.

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