Rdio Silence: Apple Delays iPhone App Update For Reasons Unknown

Last week at the D8 conference, and again at Apple’s WWDC event, chief exec Steve Jobs said there was nothing inherently wrong with Apple’s review procedures for new and updated iPhone applications.

Specifically, Jobs stated several times on both occasions that 95% of all incoming apps get approved for the App Store in seven days. Those that don’t, he added, tend to violate some ground rules: crashing often, using unpublished APIs, defaming real people, or by advertising an app differently than what it actually does.

That may well be, but it makes the isolated cases where all those exceptions don’t apply stick out like a sore thumb. We hear Apple’s review process is actually getting slower again for some developers.

Cases in point: Appsfire, which we wrote about yesterday, Reeder (which has a great iPad version of its iPhone app waiting to get approved) and now, freshly launched music subscription service Rdio.

Rdio, with backing from well known European entrepreneurs Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype, Kazaa and Joost fame, was soft-launched in the United States last week to much fanfare. But as we noted in December 2009, their iPhone app has been in the App Store for much longer than that (though unusable for most anyone).

I’ve been trying out the service and the iPhone app since last week’s launch, and expect to do a full review real soon. In short, I think it’s phenomenal.  It stacks up against Spotify any day, and I think we’ll be hearing a lot about this startup in the coming years.

Only problem so far is, their iPhone app doesn’t really function all that well, and the company has acknowledged this on their Twitter feed in the past.

I’ve spoken to a number of people close to the company about this, and from what I can gather they submitted an updated app with a couple of bug fixes weeks ago, but Apple is making the review process a long-winded road for them with little or no communication.

No one from Rdio will officially confirm this to me (yet), but from what I understand there’s a sneaking suspicion that what is holding Apple back isn’t actually the app, but the music service that it channels.

Of course, we haven’t yet seen what Apple is going to do with its iTunes-in-the-cloud service (rest assured that it’s coming, though) so this is all speculation. But what if they don’t really like what Rdio is doing because they see it as direct competition? Does that mean Rdio for iPhone, and by extension other jukebox-in-the-cloud services like Spotify and Rhapsody stand a chance of being “Google Voice’d” out of the App Store because the functionality is similar to a service Apple will provide in-house?  That would certainly explain the delay.