LATE BREAKING NEWS: Please see the note in our forum about this.
Last year (2017) Apple determined there were too many apps in the iTunes store which were” duplicative" -- meaning they reproduced the same functionality in multiple apps. For example, think of a travel company that makes an app for dozens of counties. Apple suggested the developer could create a single app with the ability to switch to the country of choice inside that app. Or a sports app that has a different app for every team. Again, Apple suggested that there be a single sports app that has the ability for the customer to choose the team from the app.
The purpose of this is to remove what Apple feels is a lot of the clutter in the app store, which includes apps that they feel are so similar they call them spam. It's kind of ironic in that a few years ago Apple was touting that the app store had over 2 million apps. But at some point, having so many apps became a problem for Apple and the result was they began to ask developers to start consolidating.
In 2017 Apple asked us to consolidate our 3 high end birding apps, iBird Plus, Pro and Ultimate, into a single app, and to make it possible for customers to purchase different country databases inside that consolidate app using the in-app purchase feature. In other words, they wanted us to have just a single app with all the features available as in-app purchases. So, things like Birds Around Me, Percevia smart search as well as databases for countries such as the UK, Hawaii, etc. could be bought via in-app purchases. They explained to us that they would be freezing 2 of the apps that we didn't update. So, they could remain in the store and people could buy them, but they would not allow future updates to them.
Our solution was to pick our most popular app of the 3, iBird Pro, to be this updated app. Sadly Apple does not provide any mechanism for developers to give credit to the people who previously purchased iBird Plus or iBird Ultimate. So, we were unable to offer an update path for these customers to obtaining the new iBird Pro Consolidated Version 11, 12 and up. The only solution for iBird Ultimate and Plus customers was to buy iBird Pro as a new purchase.
We really regret this as its unfair to all the people who spent their hard-earned money to buy iBird Plus and iBird Ultimate with the expectation these apps would continue to be updated in the future. We tried to explain to Apple the frustration this would create with our customers. We were unsuccessful.
Is there a Solution?
The only recourse I can offer is send an email to Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, and ask him if Apple can provide a solution for this situation. His published email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. There must be thousands of people who have bought all kinds of iOS apps who find themselves in a similar dilemma. And it may be that Tim Cook is unaware of this consequence. Perhaps Apple can provide a free promo code to every buyer of Ultimate and Plus so they can download the new consolidated iBird Pro for free. That would make the issue disappear.
If you have any thoughts about how to solve this I would love to hear them. Remember because you purchased the app directly from Apple with your credit card, PayPal or maybe a Gift Card, the only company who can give you a refund is Apple.
What About the Future?
To keep people from purchasing discontinued iBird products we added a caution to the iBird Ultimate and Plus "Promotional Text." This is all a developer can change without updating the actual app, which again we can no longer do. We basically state: "This app has been frozen and is no longer up-to-date. Please purchase the most recent version of iBird Pro instead. You can still re-install iBird Ultimate or iBird Plus if you already purchased it." Please understand that we need to leave the product pages in place for Ultimate and Plus so that if people move to new phones they still can download and install the apps for free.
Again, I apologize for this unfortunate situation. If you have any suggestions about how we can help Ultimate and Plus customers please let us know by send us a message using our ticket system at help.ibird.com. You can also leave a Comment at the bottom of this FAQ.
Mitchell Waite, CEO
Mitch Waite Group