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.