Apple says it won’t be closing down the App Store to developer submissions over the holidays, as it has in previous years. The policy change will be welcomed by developers who often fear that they’ll be blocked from being able to issue emergency bug fixes or other critical updates during one of the busiest seasons for apps. As customers unwrap new iPhones and other Apple devices given as gifts, they look for new apps to install and to redownload their favorites. Coupled with the extended downtime from work, consumers go in search of new apps and games to try during the final months of the year. This, in turn, drives App Store usage upwards in the fourth quarter.
Typically, Apple’s App Store Connect service would close down fully for the holiday season, meaning developers would have to rush to get in their most important app updates before the year-end shutdown. This year, however, Apple says it will continue to operate through the holidays, but hints toward reducing staffing levels by noting that reviews “may take longer to complete” from November 24 to 28 and from December 23 to 27.
The change comes at a time when Apple is under increased regulatory scrutiny worldwide over its App Store business model, which requires developers to pay Apple a commission on their paid app downloads, in-app purchases and subscriptions. Apple may not want to give lawmakers and critics any further ammunition by closing down its App Store submission platform, which is powered by those developer fees, given that part of its argument is that it collects fees to serve its developer community.
Of course, the company may have also simply realized the increased traffic during the holiday period makes for the worst time of the year to actually close up shop, and has finally addressed the problem.
Apple has not detailed to what extent it may be reducing staffing during the holiday break, if it’s leaning more on contractors during this period or explained any other aspects related to its internal business operations decisions that accompany this new change. The company was asked for comment, but has not responded at this time.