Let’s Get the App Store Approval Process Straight

By  |  Monday, May 4, 2009 at 7:44 pm

macmondayApple is once again finding itself at the short end of the PR stick with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor publicly taking the company to task over what is clearly still a inconsistent process on Apple’s part: its approval process for App Store applications.

As Jared touched on earlier this evening, an update to Reznor’s application, nin:access, was denied by Apple. It appears as if the problem lies in some of NIN’s content, which is readily available through iTunes to anyone.

I can see Apple’s preference to keep profane content out of the App Store, although as I’ll point out later the company is far from consistent in its application of the rules.

Apple’s reasoning is content from The Downward Spiral. Several of the songs on that album, especially “Closer,” may be a bit over the top for sensitive users. For those who’ve never heard it, lyrics from the song include it’s notable chorus:

I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna [expletive] you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God

The video (which may be what caught Apple’s eye) is pretty graphic — such that the TV version included several missing scenes in order to allow it to be shown on MTV — but at the same time, its far less offensive than some other things that have made it past the iTunes censors.

But get this: you can’t get The Downward Spiral directly from the application. It’s only in the band’s podcast.

Consider the “Baby Shaker” application, which would have probably still been in the store if it hadn’t been for the amount of negative coverage Apple got for leaving it through. This app was probably the most egregious example of Cupertino’s approval issues, but there’s a lot less severe ones, either in bad taste or just questionable altogether.

How about an App that tracked menstrual cycles of your girlfriend? Or the multitude of fart apps, including one that actually showed a person’s backside? Or an app that cost $1,000, yet didn’t do a single thing?

So let’s go back to the clause in the iPhone Developer Agreement that Apple’s using to explain it’s reasoning for rejecting Reznor’s update:

Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.

Hmm. Baby Shaker wasn’t offensive? Or the menstrual cycle tracking applications, which could easily be obtained by those possibly too young (in their parent’s judgement) to be having sex? I’m not sure about the $1,000 application, but when there’s no value to an application, why is it allowed to be sold?

This inconsistent application of the rules just makes Apple look bad. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good the company is gatekeeping a little bit. It results in better and safer applications. But why are some of these applications making it through?

Apple won’t talk and explain itself. All we’ve seen from them is the pulldown of the app, and then an apology if we’re lucky. Every time they’re asked how they’re picking applications, they’ll either defer or not comment at all.

So, we’re sit here leaving to wonder why stuff like what I’ve listed gets through, and other applications which don’t even really seem to meet the criteria listed above get rejected.

I don’t think that NIN really should have had their application rejected. What really changed between the first and second versions of this thing, and didn’t the first reviewer did any research on the band’s work?

Guess not.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Simon Says:

    Well said. Apple’s silence, when it come to products, is famous and I’d say that in terms of marketing and mystique it’s A Good Thing. When it comes, however, to its position as gatekeeper for possibly the most important new platform out there, the lack of accountability and refusal to engage in dialogue is seriously not cool. They need to get this whole process fixed because it’s already become a PR disaster. It requires a bit of culture change but here Apple needs openness and that could be a bigger challenge for them than producing another hit device..

  2. Ed Oswald Says:

    I love Apple.. but when I saw Baby Shaker it was the last straw. I couldn’t even read MG’s whole article the first time, it disturbed me that much. Who the heck approved that???? did they even look at the game?

    It’s disgusting.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. [TechBlogWatch] Best of Blogs für den 04. Mai 2009 | TechFieber | Hot Gadget Blog. Smart Tech News. Says:

    […] Let’s Get the App Store Approval Process Straight […]

  2. Smuggle Truck: Tasteless Satire on a Serious Issue Says:

    […] court of the app store gatekeepers like Apple. Will they allow this one through too, just as they left the equally digusting “Baby Shaker” app through, and several others over the past few years? I guess we’ll find out. I do think the line […]