After our exposé last week on all the sexy iPhone apps that had made it into Apple’s iPhone App Store, Apple has gone on a prudish rampage, removing almost every app with a sexual angle from the App Store.But Apple isn’t removing apps with nudity or graphic sex, because they weren’t there to begin with.
Instead, Apple is getting into the highly subjective business of deciding how much skin on even a swimsuit photo is too much for its puritanical values, and is reportedly banning “sexual connotations” and “innuendo.”
- “No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)”
- “No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)”
- “No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)”
- “No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes – I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in this pic)”
- “No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned”
- “Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble “overtly sexual!)”
- “No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)”
This is just silly.
Is Apple seriously going to tell a company they can’t make a Winter Olympics app because it will be too sexy? Will Apple seriously tell Sports Illustrated — whose publisher is one of several hoping that tablets like Apple’s iPad can reverse its sinking fortunes — that it can’t release the Swimsuit Edition for the iPhone? Or other men’s magazines?
What if a serious news App has a bikini photo in it? Will that be banned, too? How about that sexy picture of Rihanna in the GQ app? And how is Apple — which can barely handle managing all the apps that people are making now — going to pretend it can keep consistent and fair regulations about something so subjective as IMPLYING sexuality? As it stands, the Playboy app — with actual semi-nudity — is still available for download!
Yes, Apple has the right to basically do whatever it wants with the iPhone App Store, even at the demise of some of its partners whose businesses were legitimate a day before. Apple runs a monopoly on the Apps market — you can’t install legitimate apps any other way — so its decisions are sweeping. To some extent, that’s OK. Apple created this market, and should be able to control it.
But this is going too far. The iPhone already has parental controls, which Apple could easily crank up a notch. NONE of the apps we’ve seen so far are any “worse” than the kinds of ACTUAL NUDITY AND SEXUAL INNUENDO present in hundreds or thousands of movies that Apple sells on iTunes. And we doubt that Apple is going to be able to police these new policies with any consistency or fairness.
None of these apps were so popular that the iPhone is going to lose any users — remember, there’s REAL porn on the phone’s Web browser, 24 hours a day — but Apple could continue to lose trust with developers. So a softer stance that’s more manageable would be the right move.