Apple has irked more than a few iPhone app developers by rejecting their creations for inclusion in the App Store, sometimes for reasons that seem to have little sense. The company won't reveal much about its mysterious and often seemingly-arbitrary process (representatives didn't respond to multiple requests to comment on this story), but we had no problem tracking down developers whose apps had been snubbed.
1. Obama Trampoline
Swamiware's Obama Trampoline game, rejected by Apple this month, lets you place one of 18 politicians onto a giant trampoline, then use his or her body to pop balloons floating across the screen. Barack Obama, John McCain, and other politicians from both parties were among the character choices.
"It's cartoony," says Swamiware President and CEO Patrick Alphonso, hoping to deflate any implications of disrespect. "It's a game."
Apple, of course, didn't see the fun, and the game didn't get in. Swamiware is now working on retooling Trampoline for another try, but the guesswork is leaving its team less than elated.
"We spent a lot of time and money on this product," Alphonso says. "It sucks to develop an app and get it rejected for reasons that you weren't aware of."
The journalist who chucked his shoe at President George W. Bush missed his mark, and so too did an iPhone game based on the now-infamous incident. MyShoe, conceived by a Pakistan-based programmer, turned the iPhone's accelerometer into an apparatus for imaginary footwear-flinging.
The developer has been quoted as saying the game also let you take aim at Bin Laden and other public figures. Even so, it appears that Apple wanted to dodge the controversy, with its reviewers citing the App Store's rule against "ridiculing public figures" and flinging this idea right into the trash.
3. I Am Poor
You probably remember the ill-fated (and, most would say, ill-inspired) I Am Rich application. The $1000 function-free program--all it did was place a silly, shiny icon on your screen--got snubbed out just days after its debut. Grabbing less attention, though, was the far more affordable alternative, I Am Poor.
Priced at 99 cents, I Am Poor placed images of ramen noodles, tuna, and mac-and-cheese onto your humble home screen. Apple, however, didn't find the idea appetizing and slapped a "no user functionality" stamp on it.
"Their policies and approval are shrouded in mystery," Macia says. "Whenever an app is submitted, it seems like playing Russian roulette."
4. The South Park App
If anyone's accustomed to battling censorship, it's "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The same guys who made The Guinness Book of World Records for squeezing 399 cuss words into a single movie have just given up their fight to get into the App Store.
"After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected," the duo explains. "According to Apple, the content was 'potentially offensive.'" The app would have allowed iPhone users to access episode clips, read South Park news, and grab wallpaper and other South Park-related downloadables. Some of this content, we gather, contains some R-rated words or concepts. But then again so do the South Park episodes Apple already sells in its iTunes store.
One glimmer of hope for anyone waiting on a mobile Mr. Hankey: Parker and Stone say that Apple told them its standards could "evolve" over time. Hey, maybe by the year 2014, images acceptable on cable television will be allowed on mobile devices, too. Maybe.
5. Pull My Finger
Another app found to be full of hot air was Air-O-Matic's Pull My Finger--you know, the adolescent-aimed emulator of flatulent tones. (That's the technical description, anyway). When Apple first caught wind of the concept, it said no thanks. Right away, the app's originators sensed something didn't smell right.
"Their reasons for banning us really didn't add up," says developer Sam Magdalein.
Apple initially said Pull My Finger had "limited utility," Magdalein remembers, then went on to explain that it might offend some of the iPhone's more sophisticated overseas shoppers.
"After that, they pretty much stopped talking to us or returning e-mail and voicemail," Magdalein recalls.
A month later, Apple reconsidered. A rep told Magdalein inspectors had been caught off-guard with this "genre" of apps and had needed to carefully consider which submissions should be approved. Pull My Finger was in, then, and it didn't take long for the app to propel its way into the store's list of bestselling items.