What is a white label app?

If you are looking for an app for your business, you might have heard that term – a white label, sometimes spelled as whitelabel or white-label app. An app that promises to be cost-effective, but with your branding. 

White label app definition

While there is no definition of the white label app on Wikipedia, we can find a closely related term: white label product: A white-label product is a product or service produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand to make it appear as if they had made it. If we translate it to the app terms – that is a mobile app that was built once, but now it can be deployed to the App Store or Google Play under many different names, with different icons and other images, different branding scheme, and sometimes with a different configuration, resulting in slightly different available features of that app. 

To give some examples – imagine that we want to build an app for a museum. The most typical one. That app should include information about current and planned exhibitions, some contact information, feed with news where one can read the latest updates, a map showing where this museum is located. Everything with a few language versions, so visitors from abroad could enjoy it. The more fancy app could have indoor navigation, allowing users to find themselves inside the museum, listen to the commentary or participate in games or quizzes that will increase their engagement. 

Now an important fact – consider that there are around 55000 museums in the world. Buiding custom app for every one of those could be seen as an enormous waste of resources. What if one app could serve multiple museums? 

That’s some real-life scenario for creating a white-label app that could be branded with different icons, styles, images, and content for various museums around the world. 

Apple policy and white label apps 

When working with a white-label app that will land in the App Store, please keep in mind that you still need to follow App Store Review Guidelines. And there’s one tricky paragraph there: 

4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences. Another acceptable option for template providers is to create a single binary to host all client content in an aggregated or “picker” model, for example as a restaurant finder app with separate customized entries or pages for each client restaurant, or as an event app with separate entries for each client event.

That might look scary, and discourage you from applying the white label approach to your product. However, keep in mind that this rule is not that strict as it might seem. Two apps with the same base, but branded differently, and – what is very important – with different content would not be considered a volitation of that rule. 

However, as we have seen in the past, building and deploying such similar apps in a large number on a single Apple Developer account might not be the best idea. There’s another point in the review guidelines that are important here: 

4.3 Spam
Don’t create multiple Bundle IDs of the same app. If your app has different versions for specific locations, sports teams, universities, etc., consider submitting a single app and provide the variations using in-app purchase. 

If you plan to build an app for that 55.000 museums – they will have at least to create separate Apple Developer accounts! How to do it? Well, you’ll have to wait for another article from our mini-series.