You may get away with 2 or 3 similar apps - but at some point you will get the spam rejection. It seems the way to deal with that is to create a new developer account (i.e. $99 per year) under the client restaurant individual chain's name and submt the app from that account. It is possible that a single corporate entity can generate multiple apps, one for each of its wholey owned subsidiaries, using the compelling 'not-associate' logic you described above. But a software development company cannot do the same for multiple clients.
As a software development firm that has read the posts on this forum, you realize and understand that you (the software development contractor) ARE NOT going to be submitting the apps through your developer account, and are instead going to be acting as a suitable contractor to assist the contracting company (through it or its subsidiaries) to subm through one or more developer accounts controlled by the contracting company (or subsidiaries). Right?
And please pause to consider one very important point concerning quality: What does it say to the public when they see all of these different food chains having essentially interchangeable apps? That speaks of low quality, and that diminishes the effectiveness of these apps as advertising.
The existence of premium products and other differences among the various chains should naturally lead to the apps having differences.
> And please pause to consider one very important point concerning quality: What does it say to the public when they see all of these different food chains having essentially interchangeable apps?
It's not quite that simple. There are two equally legit business models here and Apple has chosen the app-centric model rather than the business-centric model. That's certainly their choice - leaving developers no options but to switch (although some continue to complain). Consider a local grocery store. It would want its own app. I, as a developer, could build an app for a grocery store - they fill in their specials and prices and other local meeting stuff. In every city there is at least one local grocery store that can use that app. It would be a great business (for me). But Apple has said "no" to that business-centric model because it crowds their App Store with lots of duplicate apps (note - the app is a duplicate, the grocery stores are very different). That is certainly their right - no objections nor complaints from me. Apple wants a single app called "Your grocery store" where you select your local grocery store from a drop down menu. It's a great case study for business school.
Yes, the idea is that we will support our client in publishing the application using their Apple Developper Account.
By checking the 4.2.6 item on the App Review Guideline (which has been updated since then), I see that by doing it this way, the app would not be refused because of Similar while label app.
Does it mean that our client has to create one Developper account per food chain ?
Or do they need to create one Apple Developper account for each ?