Apple responded to the FCC’s questions today about the rejection of Google Voice. It’s an interesting read, especially for Apple watchers like us. Apple loves secrecy and the letter is surprisingly open and forthright.
The details of why the rejected Google Voice are not all that surprising and will certainly be discussed by everyone endlessly. I am more interested in the review process since we go through it regularly.
In their response, Apple discloses that there are 40 full time reviewers dealing with 8500 new apps and updates per week. If you assume that Apple is neither falling behind nor catching up, that means that they spend 11.2 minutes reviewing each app (40 people working 40 hrs per week processing 8500 items per week – the average wait time of 14 days is not relevant to the calculation of throughput if my recollection of queuing theory is correct).
Apple said that every app is reviewed by two people, so that means that a reviewer has about 5 minutes to review an app. If true, the level of quality in the app store is remarkable since it takes us a lot longer than 5 minutes to QA an update of Phanfare Photon before we send it to Apple. It also means that Apple certainly relies on some degree of automation to test apps and make sure they conform in various ways. For example, I would guess that they check for the use of undocumented frameworks programatically.
Apple also states that they have reviewed about 200,000 apps in a little more than a year. But at 8500 apps per week, they are on a run rate of 442,000 apps per year, so the number of app submissions is accelerating.