updated 09:50 am EST, Tue February 23, 2010
Surge of 'very objectionable' apps, exec claims
The recent crackdown on "overtly sexual" iPhone apps is based on a rash of complaints from the public, says Apple's senior VP of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller. The executive claims that an "increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content" have been submitted to the App Store in the past few weeks, generating a backlash from the more easily offended.
"It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable," says Schiller, "as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see."
It is believed that over 5,000 titles have been removed from the App Store since last week, and that the total number of "objectionable" apps may be as high as 5 percent of the 140,000-plus that Apple at least used to host. The company is asking upset developers to turn to help from iTunes Connect, which includes guides and contact information.
The bans are being called hypocritical however, as Apple continues to sell official Playboy and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit apps, which nominally violate Apple's new rules but have the backing of wealthy, well-known publishers. The policy change may potentially ruin some smaller developers, such as On the Go Girls, which notes that all 50 of its apps are no longer on sale. "It's very hard to go from making a good living to zero," says the company's co-president, Fred Clarke. "This goes farther than sexy content. For developers, how do you know you aren’t going to invest thousands into a business only to find out one day you’ve been cut off?"
Asked about Sports Illustrated, Schiller defends the apparent double-standard, citing source and intent. "The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format," the VP insists. Fred Clarke meanwhile says that while On the Go will continue to develop for Apple platforms, it plans to explore alternate ones such as Android. Unlike the App Store, apps entering the Android Market are initially unfiltered; they are only flagged and/or removed later, as need be.