Should Apple Police the App Store for Sleaze?

By  |  Friday, February 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Apple appears to have decided that the iPhone App Store should be less smutty. As the Business Insider is reporting, developers of sex-oriented apps are getting notified that their apps are being removed from the store. TechCrunch has the text of a message Apple sent to the developer of something called Jiggle iBoobs saying that the tougher stance is a response to complaints from iPhone owners.

Of all the many and varied controversies over App Store acceptance policies, this is one I have trouble getting worked up over–sorry, Jiggle iBoobs, but I’m not going to defend to my death your right to be in the App Store. I am, however, fascinated by the fact that Apple’s app policies are vastly more puritanical than those for movies and music.

I mean, the iTunes Store has the movies with six of the top twelve nude scenes ever filmed, as rated in this (semi-SFW) list. It has five of the eight most sweartastic movies of all time. It’s full of music whose very titles will offend many people. And all this stuff can be purchased from iTunes and transferred to the same iPhones that will tragically be denied Jiggle iBoobs from now on.

Steve Jobs is fond of saying that software developers are artists. He’s right. But the developers whose work is getting booted off the App Store aren’t artists–they’re schlockmeisters selling (mildly) prurient stuff with no artistic value. The basic cheesiness of their offerings is what separates them from other stuff on iTunes that’s more explicit. Apple may be relaying bad news to the developer of Hooters Calendar Girls Crazy Eights, but I kinda doubt it’ll do the same to Martin Scorsese anytime soon.

Still, I’d vote for Apple erring on the side of allowing the possible offensive into the App Store–and having at least vaguely consistent policies for movies, muisc, and applications–as long as parents have a way to prevent their kids from seeing it. As Jason Kincaid says over at TechCrunch, the rules are nebulous. And subject to arbitrary change: The App Store’s short life can already be divided into the Puritan Era, the PG-Rated Era, and the Puritanism All Over Again Era.

More important, even if there are no possibly-offensive apps of genuine artistic worth right now, there will be someday–but only if Apple doesn’t shut down the whole idea before it even gets started.

What’s your take?



4 Comments For This Post

  1. Stilgar Says:

    Censoring smut on the app store is dumb, when the thing has a fully-functional Web browser built into it. Apple doesn’t filter the Internet (well, other than Flash I guess), why should it filter the app store too?

  2. Flabby Boohoo Says:

    I didn’t realize that you could only develop “artistic” software, whatever that is.

    You have to be careful because soon there will be other things that do not meet some ambiguous criteria and will be banned.

    I am still amazed that the stuff Apple can get away with.

  3. Chip Says:

    Apple doesn’t “get away” with anything.
    They wring their hands over making sure that the majority of users are having a great experience with their products, and they sometimes behave awkwardly. But it’s their store, and they can “stock” what they want.
    The reason they don’t “get away” with anything is because users can choose to go elsewhere if they don’t like this approach.
    But the vast majority of users (i.e., not the tech blog readers) seem to be okay with this approach.

  4. pond Says:

    It’s getting pretty ridiculous, when a swimsuit retailer gets its app pulled – because it shows pictures of actual women wearing their swimsuits.

    ars is claiming to have seen some evidence that Focus on the Family has pulled a complaint-blitzkrieg on Apple over the sexy apps, and that Apple, like any good corporate behemoth, has caved. But I wonder if maybe the company is ‘clearing the decks’ preparatory to the big iPad rollout. Certainly any sexy apps would be dying to get on the iPad.

    Best result of all this must be the spur it gives developing webapps for the iPhoneOS.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. OWC's Laura Park Interview, plus the Mac News OWC Radio #5 | Says:

    […] from the show Did a Pennsylvania school district use iSight to iSpy? Ngmoco Buys Freeverse Should Apple Police the App Store for Sleaze? Adobe CS5 in April, 2010? Transfer LP records to your […]

  2. OWC’s Laura Park Interview, plus the Mac News OWC Radio #15 | Other World Computing Blog Says:

    […] from the show Did a Pennsylvania school district use iSight to iSpy? Ngmoco Buys Freeverse Should Apple Police the App Store for Sleaze? Adobe CS5 in April, 2010? Transfer LP records to your […]