In Business on February 24, 2010 at 4:48 AM

With the increasing number of adult-themed Applications flooding the Apple App Store and complaints mounting, the big boys in suits decided it was time to take swift action. The decision to pull apps, considered too racy once again relieves parents from that age old responsibility of parenting, while scoring yet another win for the other big boys who always seem able to find a win in a losing situation; yes, our good old pals the corporations.

And yet again, according to Apple Marketing executive Phillip W. Schiller. “It came to a point where we were getting complaints from women…and parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.”  Of course whenever any industry-dominant corporation like Apple makes a decision, women and children are always the first consideration. I received a Facebook posting on my wall from a friend about an iPhone app that assists in arranging and eventually rating “booty calls”.  I suspect this app may soon be in search of a new home – say the Google Android? Apparently, in the race to catch up with Apple’s App store, which caught every would be competitor with their preverbal pants down (make whatever puns you deem necessary), Google should notice a considerable spike in application developer submittals and downloads, while Apple will at least take credit for initially introducing millions of consumers, who were still marveling over touch screens and cameras on phones, to the future.

In an attempt to become more Wal-Mar-ty, Apple could very well find itself in a non-winning situation. Censorship in almost any form is widely considered a detested practice on the old internet machine.  Savvy techies and noobs generally agree that censorship, when it comes to content at least, gets corporate suits a nice slap on the wrist. How this practice will translate in the burgeoning app world is yet to be seen. What may be of more issue is Apple’s unclear policy on what’s acceptable and who gets the thumbs down.  While upstart software developers like “On The Go Girls” which features some 50 applications of scantily-clad young women performing tasks such as cleaning your iPhone screen (from the inside, duh) got surreptitiously dumped , giants – including Sports Illustrated and Playboy, sailed right along with their applications (of girls in scantily-clad attire) getting the big thumbs up from those geniuses in the corner offices: “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.” I agree. The first thing I hear out of teenaged boys checking out racy pics of hot girls is “where’d that image come from? Oh it’s Sports Illustrated so it’s cool with my mom if I check it out.”

The real story behind Apple’s decision to take the more hawkish path may likely be consideration of the consumer but for quite different reasons. It has been well determined that the more choices one has, the less likely the ability to make sound, clear decisions becomes. While saturation with adult content of the Apple App store is not yet a reality, the distinct possibility of this potential reality stands. Several seasoned Developers constantly complain of “clutter” becoming a big problem for a single app that provides real utility getting drowned out by 50 apps that allow users to remove a woman’s clothing with the swipe of a finger. The real challenge for Apple will be how the big wigs determine and set policy and how that message is conveyed to the developer community.  Remember, these guys are thin-skinned nerds in search of recognition and respect – sorry guys for calling you out like that.

When getting down to the brass tax of it all, Apple is as image- conscious as Nike, Tiger Woods or Cindy Crawford.  Controlling brand image is priority number one for Apple. And if the app store becomes log jammed and thereby characterized as a hub for adult content, Apple could see its core consumer base become indecisive or flee to rivals like Google. The window appears to be wide open for some platform to seize and manage an entire industry’s entre into the app world – an industry known as an innovative tech leader since the inception of the internet itself.  Long live smut.


  2. I respectfully disagree with your POV. Unlike other corporations, I believe this decision evidenced the fact that Apple listened to their users and customers.

    • Timethief,
      Thanks for your comments. Sure the good folks on Apple Mountain bent an ear over the perch to hear the billowing cries of mothers and children in their ever-hopeful desire for decency on the net. However, the Apple App Store was largely constructed by Developers with mostly useful apps. The clutter issue, going forward is very real for (eventually) all app platforms (for the consumer and Developer) and getting a handle on this issue-to-be sooner than later serves the better interests of the Apple brand. If the primary motive driving Apple’s recent actions with regard was responding to consumer pressure, I suspect Playboy would have gotten the boot as well. So far, they remain safely on base.
      the Observer

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