Should Apple Police the App Store for Sleaze?
Apple appears to have decided that the iPhone App Store should be less smutty. As the Business Insider is reporting, developers of sex-oriented apps are getting notified that their apps are being removed from the store. TechCrunch has the text of a message Apple sent to the developer of something called Jiggle iBoobs saying that the tougher stance is a response to complaints from iPhone owners.
Of all the many and varied controversies over App Store acceptance policies, this is one I have trouble getting worked up over -- sorry, Jiggle iBoobs, but I'm not going to defend to my death your right to be in the App Store. I am, however, fascinated by the fact that Apple's app policies are vastly more puritanical than those for movies and music.
I mean, the iTunes Store has the movies with six of the top twelve nude scenes ever filmed, as rated in this (semi-SFW) list. It has five of the eight most sweartastic movies of all time. It's full of music whose very titles will offend many people. And all this stuff can be purchased from iTunes and transferred to the same iPhones that will tragically be denied Jiggle iBoobs from now on.
Steve Jobs is fond of saying that software developers are artists. He's right. But the developers whose work is getting booted off the App Store aren't artists -- they're schlockmeisters selling (mildly) prurient stuff with no artistic value. The basic cheesiness of their offerings is what separates them from other stuff on iTunes that's more explicit. Apple may be relaying bad news to the developer of Hooters Calendar Girls Crazy Eights, but I kinda doubt it'll do the same to Martin Scorsese anytime soon.
Still, I'd vote for Apple erring on the side of allowing the possible offensive into the App Store -- and having at least vaguely consistent policies for movies, muisc, and applications -- as long as parents have a way to prevent their kids from seeing it. As Jason Kincaid says over at TechCrunch, the rules are nebulous. And subject to arbitrary change: The App Store's short life can already be divided into the Puritan Era, the PG-Rated Era, and the Puritanism All Over Again Era.
More important, even if there are no possibly-offensive apps of genuine artistic worth right now, there will be someday -- but only if Apple doesn't shut down the whole idea before it even gets started.
What's your take?