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Apple Steps In It Over Sex App Removal



Apple is slipping down a slippery slope as the keeper of the App Store with its latest move. There has been all sorts of anguish over some of the seemingly arbitrary nature of Apple’s approval process of apps, but this latest controversy brings the word arbitrary to a new level. Or does it?

Here’s the skinny. Last week, apps with sexual themed content, including apps that were basically pictures of women in bikinis and other scantily clad apparel, started disappearing. It was obvious Apple was on a purge of this kind of content. Reports are that upwards of 5000 apps have been pulled that were previously approved and in some instances making money for the developers. The difficulty Apple is running up against here is that it is leaving similar apps from big guns like Playboy and Sports Illustrated on the store.

Apple’s Phil Schiller tried to explain the reasoning but didn’t do such a good job in a lose-lose situation. He’s quoted as saying:

It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.

And about leaving Playboy and SI alone he said:

The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.

The bottom line is that Apple can run its App Store as it sees fit. That bottom line gets tripped over when you start to attempt to distinguish some sort of finer line on issues like this that are nothing but subjective. Especially when it becomes a course change after the fact. I’m guessing the parental controls Apple touts just don’t keep prying eyes from viewing these Apps in the App Store. For a company with a logo that suggests the first bite of the forbidden fruit, Apple is going to take some well deserved hits for this as it slides down this slippery slope it has created.

Via The New York Times



  1. Ray

    02/23/2010 at 7:34 am

    “Well-known company” roughly translates to “company with lots of lawyers”.


      02/23/2010 at 7:42 am

      indeed, apple cant risk the legal war that would result in pissing of playboy or similar. End result may well be that a judge ordered apple to allow third party software to install, without going by the app store.

      what surprises me is that apple didnt just quietly alter the search results to not include anything “adult”, unless the age setting of the account doing the searching allowed it.

  2. Eve

    02/23/2010 at 9:07 am

    however it’s not only children that don’t want to see those apps, it’s women as well, including myself. I’m glad they’re getting rid of that smut.

    The smut distributors can always find new ways to sell their stuff if they are even a little creative. They can sell a photo viewer where people can subscribe to or buy photos in-app.

    As far as search results go, you don’t need to search for that stuff to find it – some of those apps are so popular they rank in the top 25 most popular paid apps in certain categories, so you don’t need to be looking to run into them. They would also have to be excluded from Top 25 lists.

  3. GoodThings2Life

    02/23/2010 at 9:18 am

    They really should handle this better by implementing search filtering based on parental controls and generic filtering options like hiding it by default but allowing an advanced search to include it.

  4. Ray

    02/23/2010 at 9:47 am

    I think that most people do not have a problem with the content being gone. After all, it was tough to navigate the store because of the glut of random “woman less than fully clothed” apps. The problem that I have is the arbitrary changing of the rules. It is hard to follow the rules when no one knows what they are, and they keep changing.

  5. Mike

    02/23/2010 at 10:56 am

    I’m glad they are gone too. I was tired of seeing them pop up all over the top 25 etc. Apple is a business and they can at any time change the rules for what they allow or don’t allow. And, they don’t have to explain it to anyone or for that matter publish any rules. I rarely find myself in agreement with an Apple decision, but this time I think it is a good one. Now, if the women were completely naked that would be a different story. I just don’t like the teases. LOL

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