I've been hearing a lot of stories lately about applications getting rejected from the App Store process for relatively minor violations of the HIG. We're talking subtle things, like incorrectly highlighting a table row, or putting the wrong kind of image in a button on a navigation bar. This seems to be a relatively recent thing, as there are many apps on the App Store that violate the HIG quite blatantly.
I'm a big believer in developers reading and knowing the HIG. But, the "G" stands for "Guidelines" folks, not "Rule" which, as you probably know, begins with an "R". I really am not comfortable with Apple enforcing the HIG this strictly. It's confining. It's like what the French try to do with their language through the Académie française - they stifle the ability to evolve by insisting on only "proper" usage at all times.
You have to give some room for change. You have to afford people the ability to bend or break the rules when there is a good reason to do so, and you have to realize that you may not always recognize when someone has a good reason.
We had this on the Mac. Because we could distribute applications directly to the consumer without Apple's intervention, we had the freedom the be non-standard. Companies that did it with impunity — without good reason — either failed, or learned fast. If we hadn't had that ability, today we wouldn't have many of the controls we are accustomed to on the computer, from sliders to steppers to tabs to combo boxes, many controls originally weren't part of the Mac HIG (and its predecessors). Many of these were non-standard elements at one time. The ones that worked well, survived and became commonplace. The Mac community found the right balance between standardization and innovation, but right now, it doesn't look like the iPhone community is going to have the same opportunity to move the platform forward.
If this keeps up, the platform will suffer for it.
Edit: Not to mention stuff like this.