App Store Thaw? Apple Accepts A Gmail Push Application

2354794964_e5625b1c9dIt has now been over a month since we first wrote about GPush, an iPhone app that uses Apple’s Push Notification system to alert you when you have new Gmail messages. Like so many other apps, it was starting to look like Apple simply may not accept it. But a surprise came to developers last night: An email from Apple accepting the app.

Now, before you get all excited, it’s not live just yet. The developers had an issue with the Amazon servers they use to run their system, so they temporarily took the app down, but the team expects things to be back to normal and the app to be in the store in the next 24 hours, we’re told. Again, as far as Apple is concerned, the app is good to go.

If you need to know about the app itself, I suggest you read our initial piece, but it’s pretty straightforward, it brings push support to Gmail on the iPhone via Push Notifications because Apple doesn’t support push Gmail natively, for whatever reason. What we’re more interested in is the timing of this acceptance.

Granted, this is all speculative, but the timing of Apple accepting a Gmail push notification app that it has been sitting on for a month is curious. Earlier this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stepped down from Apple’s board of directors. A few days prior to that, the FCC sent letters to both Apple and Google inquiring about the their relationship as it relates to the App Store. This was brought about by Apple rejecting Google’s Google Voice app. And then yesterday, we reported that Google and Apple did have a no-poaching rule for hiring between the two companies, something which the Justice Department was looking into.

Could all that pressure, specifically on Apple as it relates to Google, have caused Apple to accept this app? Or, at the very least, did Schmidt’s removal from Apple’s board pave the way for this? The developers are wondering the same things. Sure, it may sound silly that Apple’s stance on one app could be changed by these things, but we do know that Apple has started watching even single app rejections/non-approvals more closely as no less than Apple VP Phil Schiller is now weighing in on them.

Or maybe this is the first sign of a thaw for Apple’s frigid policies with developers who create apps in what it considers to be a gray area. I’m not saying GPush was definitely one of those apps (though we did wonder that from day one), but a month is a long time to wait for approval, even by the App Store’s standards. And the GPush developers say that they did not change anything in the app to make Apple accept it.

Whatever the reason for the acceptance, if you’re a Gmail addict, it will be a good thing to have GPush in the store. As I said, look for the app sometime in the next 24 hours in the App Store. It will be $0.99 for the first week of availability, then the price will go up to $1.99.

[photo: flickr/richard stebbing]