Phil Schiller explains Apple's crackdown on sex-themed apps

Recently, Apple began removing sex-themed applications from its App Store. Apps have so far been removed in the thousands, though something rather peculiar was happening at the same time: high profile apps, such as Playboy, remained on the store. This, as expected, concerned a number of people, to the point where Apple executive Phil Schiller has issued a public explanation on the matter.

According to the New York Times, Schiller stated in an interview that developers had recently been submitting, "an increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content. It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degradable and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see." According to a number of analysts, it was also because Apple wanted to remove a lot of the questionable content as its products became increasingly popular, so that new customers weren't scared away.

Apple's iPod touch is marketed mainly at the younger audience, with the advertisements for the device showing off gaming capabilities; if parents discover that their children can gain access to content such as that which has been removed, then you can guarantee that won't bode well for the image of the Cupertino-based company.

With the iPhone OS 3.0 release last year, Apple introduced parental controls in order to keep this type of content from reaching the hands of younger folk, though it seems that this approach isn't enough for the parents. This scenario has already set a number of developers into a state of shock, with some having every single one of their applications removed – those which had been affected in such a way intend to move to other platforms, such as Google's Android operating system. Schiller also addressed the aforementioned issue, stating that Apple cares deeply for it developers, but in this case, the women and children had to come first. 

Sports Illustrated and Playboy are still available on the App Store, but this is apparently due to the fact that these are highly trusted companies – you won't find them trying to sneak in explicitly R-rated content into the apps, as they also have a public image to maintain. With smaller developers, that is less of a problem. The whole issue seems to be loved or hated by those sharing their opinion, though a lot seem to be distraught by the hypocrisy of the whole ordeal, including high-profile Apple blogger John Gruber.

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Enabled App ratings, provided a well rounded list of restriction options within the Settings.app and then some parents aren't willing to use the functionality provided. Out of all of this at least Apple are listening to customers. Really who is going to miss those type of apps really?

Apps like this p*** me off anyway, what is the point of them? It's nothing but a way of 'developers' trying to make a quick few quid. There is so much useless crap on the appstore made from 'my first iphone app' tutorials. It all wants removing.

forcer said,
Apps like this p*** me off anyway, what is the point of them? It's nothing but a way of 'developers' trying to make a quick few quid. There is so much useless crap on the appstore made from 'my first iphone app' tutorials. It all wants removing.

That sums up the whole of the app store pretty much outside of a handful if that of official applications.

forcer said,
Apps like this p*** me off anyway, what is the point of them? It's nothing but a way of 'developers' trying to make a quick few quid. There is so much useless crap on the appstore made from 'my first iphone app' tutorials. It all wants removing.

You don't have to buy anything you don't like. The whole internet is made up of crud, except for a tiny part that I'm actually interested in. Would it be fair to ban the stuff I don't like? :p

On the flip side of the objectionable content...if it had been an app that degrading and objectionable towards men, it would have sold well because the women would have been all over it.

I have no interest in downloading porn apps onto my phone, enough people pickup and use my phone that it would cast the wrong impresion, but were does apple get off telling me what I should and shouldn't be looking at, as has been mentioned above, Kid with ipod touch connected to the family wifi router goes to app store can't get boobs, goes to web through Safari and can all of sudden find allot more then just boobs, and unlike the family PC you can't get a family filter program on the itouch.

What gets me about the whole thing is how Apple were so quick to throw away the work of developers. Why invest your time and money into developing for a platform controlled by a company that has a strange set of rules that it's never specific about? The App Store sounds nice in theory, but Apple simply aren't communicating enough with developers.

Exactly. A move like this could probably put many developers out of business since more than a few lost a good portion if not all of their apps in the store. All because Apple doesn't seem to be able to get a decent age protection scheme in place and are happy to be handled by a bunch of prudes. It's not like very many of the apps at all even had any nudity, just bikinis and the like. If a couple of women get offended big deal, do we remove the FPS because others find those too violent or ebook readers because they could be used to read erotic texts.

I agree with the guy above "make a rating system that works"
When I install ebay app - it informs me this can access content for those above 17 years old (or something like that).
So...
what if a 2 tiered system was developed...
I am a parent and I gave my kid a ipad/ipod/iphone whatever...
when I go shopping for an app it gives this "Please be 17 years old because this is a dirty application according to apples laws" message... it asks me to provide a username and password
so I put in parent@home.com and it looks up my account and sees that I am the owner of the account and allows me to download it
now when Junior attempts to download "top heavy jumping jack girls in slow motion" app, it asks for a username and password (Junior is on my account and I put him as a minor and restricted his account, because I am a parent and dont use all excuses that someone else is the fault of my kids issues in life)
so he puts in junior@home.com, the says 'you are using a restricted account, please supply the restriction override password to download'
he can make 1000 attempts to figure out the password
or
give the device to me so I can see what he wants and supply the password if I agree or give him a flat@ss NO WAY

nah - that would never work

I completely agree. What's next? Let me guess, the fart apps will be removed because Apple feels it degrades people too? Android is looking much better.

Can we have something in this world that's not sex related for christ sake? I like it as much as any other warm blooded American guy, but I think we'll survive if the Itunes store and YouTube are not littered with filth. There are plenty of other sites to fulfill those needs.

notta said,
Can we have something in this world that's not sex related for christ sake? I like it as much as any other warm blooded American guy, but I think we'll survive if the Itunes store and YouTube are not littered with filth. There are plenty of other sites to fulfill those needs.

Everything is sex (or sin) related in Christian world. From the looks of it, police will soon jail mothers that give birth to NUDE children. Family photos have already became a ticket to jail, so this is the logical next step.

RealFduch said,

Everything is sex (or sin) related in Christian world. From the looks of it, police will soon jail mothers that give birth to NUDE children. Family photos have already became a ticket to jail, so this is the logical next step.

Dude, I am far from a bible banger as you can get, so this has nothing to do with religion. I just think that not everything has to contain nudity or sexuality. There are a lot of kids that use the Internet and 2 great sites/utilities should not have material that will prevent them from using it.

im thinking that they removed it, partly because of the complaints, but also because they want the app store to be about real apps which do real things on your phone, not just show sexy pictures...

For petes sake... women objecting to questionable content? Walk into any freaking office where it's run entirely by women, or mostly women and look to see how many have little pin up pictures of firefighters or well known male models.

It's a two way street FFS! Either Apple should have told them to get stuffed, or they're just using them as a convenient scapegoat to exercise some slightly overzelous control on the app store. Either way, it's BS like this that's making me desperate to jump ship and get onto the Android platform ASAP.

Chicane-UK said,
For petes sake... women objecting to questionable content? Walk into any freaking office where it's run entirely by women, or mostly women and look to see how many have little pin up pictures of firefighters or well known male models.

It's a two way street FFS! Either Apple should have told them to get stuffed, or they're just using them as a convenient scapegoat to exercise some slightly overzelous control on the app store. Either way, it's BS like this that's making me desperate to jump ship and get onto the Android platform ASAP.

I can imagine that the sort of women who have male pin ups are not the same women who made the complaints... I'm just guessing since I do neither I might be totally wrong :p

Eh, this doesn't bother me too much... I know it should, but I just can't seem to work up the energy. Maybe because I'm used to the Android Market with its own kind of litter and no way to avoid it. It's probably the reason nobody's posted yet that Google gets right where Apple goes wrong.

I mean, seriously, if you haven't seen the Android Market yet, it's essentially a giant dumping ground of soundboards and sliding puzzle games. It has a 1-5 star rating system, but doesn't let users sort apps by score. The only sorting options available (at least in 1.5) are 'popularity' and release date, with the option to filter out non-free apps.

Not that it surprises me. Google was never much into basic list sorting. Just look at Gmail.

Yeah, except you just did a bit of selective reading right there. Grammatically speaking:

"...we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degradable and objectionable..."

The structure of the sentence isn't stopping with "complaints from women," nor is it saying women found the content degradable [sic]. If you actually look at how the sentence is put together, the object is "women who found the content getting too degradable and objectionable"--a HUGE object to type out, but that's what it is.

In other words, even if there were only two women who objected to the apps among hundreds of men, it doesn't change the fact that there WERE "women who found the content...objectionable" (men aren't going to feel degraded by pictures of naked women any more than fat people are going to feel degraded by a Kevin Smith tweet).

Sexism isn't lurking around every corner, but it can seem to if you're looking for it.

Edited by Joshie, Feb 24 2010, 3:52am :

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