Can't Get Approval for your App? Sell the Source Code

We just released 17 O’Reilly books as standalone iPhone Apps (The Twitter Book looks fantastic — and as a bonus #hashtags in the text are clickable), and so I’ve been looking at various options for monitoring sales and popularity (AppViz, AppFigures, and MajicRank have proven quite useful), and was eager to find something I could use right from my iPhone.

I was happy to find MyAppSales, but because the App technically spiders the iTunesConnect site, it violates the Apple Terms of Service, you won’t find it in the App Store. But rather than just give up, the developer has gotten creative — he’ll sell you access to the source code for $15, and you can compile the App yourself to load onto your own devices:

Unfortunately due to section 3.3.7 of the SDK Agreement I will never be permitted to sell this app on the App Store unless I rip out it’s heart and usefullness. But you can purchase a license to look at the source code, compile it yourself, put it on all the devices you like. For just $15 you can do anything you like with the source, just not sell it or use in any other way commercially.

Doubtful he’s getting anywhere near the exposure as he would from the App Store, but it’s a clever workaround until and unless Apple revises their approval process.


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  • bowerbird

    andrew said:
    > We just released 17 O’Reilly books as standalone iPhone Apps

    yes, i noticed.

    particularly because you announced so many of them
    _individually_ in your twitterstream, announcements
    that were often retweeted by @jwikert and @timoreilly.

    @jwikert had also announced some of them himself,
    prior to retweeting your announcements, and he also
    sometimes retweeted @timoreilly’s retweets, and he
    would give updates on their continuing sales, until
    his twitterstream became so polluted with hype noise
    that it drowned out his signal, so i had to unfollow him.

    i suspect i’ll be unfollowing you very soon as well, for
    the same reasons… no big deal if i follow you or not,
    as i’m sure you will agree, but you might want to find
    a way to avoid the excessive repetition of all your hype,
    to ensure people are still listening when you want ’em to be.


  • Wow, it’s like Free and Open Source software without the “Free” or “Open”.

    But seriously, I had considered this for a few ideas I’d considered doing that wouldn’t have got through the app store approval process, turn-by-turn routing before the license change and background processing (not sure if that one’s actually possible without hacking though). If I did it I’d probably then open source the code rather than charging but then maybe that’s just me, I’ve open sourced the code for one of my apps that did make it onto the app store – iFreeThePostcode

  • It’s not actually necessary to sell the source code – he could just distribute the *.app file and get customers to re-sign it with their personal development certificate.

  • Bill

    If you just want to sell your app code
    you could just post your code for sale on

    It’s like the “craigslist” for software developers.