Most of the top appstore downloads (outside of games) are branded apps, but many of those are pretty poor. This is a good blog on from a number of brands on how to develop the right sort of app.
Apple’s prudishness towards nudity or even bikini’s in their apps doesn’t extent to nudity in art. A Polish developer has launched a series of puzzles based on nude art: Modigliani Nudes Puzzle, Bathing Nudes Paintings Puzzle, Fabulous Nude Paintings Puzzle and Classic Nude Paintings Puzzle. And Apple seem quite happy about that.
To some extant I can understand where Apple are coming from. The app bans, though rather prudish, seem to be an attempt to maintain a certain standard within the appstore. There are plenty of lads mags and Snoop Dogg videos with enough titillation to keep the average teenage boy happy. Apple are implying that that type of content is denigrating to the brand. Fair enough. But the problem is as soon as you start to act as censor, lines can become difficult to draw and you stand in danger of looking draconian or ridiculous. I’m sure these are issues that Google and other internet portals have had to consider. The underlying point is that Apple are (arguably) a distributor and not a publisher of the content. And as such, censorship is a difficult game to play.
Inane and childish? Most definately. But is the Wobble iboobs app offensive? According to Apple, the iphone app certainly is offensive and the company have banned it from the appstore. Strangely though, the app does not actually feature any boobs at all. What it does, is allows the user to add their own images and the app can make the boobs jiggle. It seems to appeal to the teenager in men, and in that capacity the app is inane, however following complaints, it has been banned from the appstore. Apple clearly believed it was suitable for distribution, but withdraw the app after a few weeks, and reported sales of $300 k.
This is the latest in a number of app withdrawls for a variety of reasons and it would appear that Apple’s policy is getting becoming more draconian. Although their policy has been to withdraw or refuse apps without a detailed specification, they have now given some clearer guidelines following the banning of 5000 apps. These were reported in MobileCrunch, the list of objectionable content is almost laughable: no women in bikinis, including those in ice skating tights and for that matter no images of men in bikinis! No sexual innuendo or sexual references in content. Fine, but where does that leave the Playboy App, which, at the time of writing, is still in there?
I would agree that most of the apps that have been banned are largely childish and stupid, this kind of draconian censorship doesn’t work. For starters, most of this is just titilation (would that word be banned in the app store), we’re not talking about wholesale pornographic exploitation of women. Our world – from TV to magazines to the internet is full of images and content far more offensive than anything Apple has banned. Ultimately it will probably back fire on the appstore. More open policies by the likes of Android, Blackberry and Nokia will ultimately drive users away from the iphone and to other handsets and operating systems.
The Apple/Google relationship has been become increasingly sour recently. The latest manifestation of this seems to be the censorship of the word ‘Android’ in apps in the iphone appstore. According to a report in Mobile Crunch, one developer had a reference to their entry into the Android awards removed from their appstore review.
Apple has previously censored words on the grounds of profanity, but have been largely ridiculed for removing ‘boobs’, ‘booty’ and ‘piss’ from apps such as dictionaries. The censoring of other brands appears to be a new step for Apple.
Maybe it’s just the time of year, but another story has popped up about the iphone appstore. Tech Crunch reported that Ninjawords Pocket Dictionary ($2) has been classified as 17+ for the inclusion of words such as ‘tits’ and ‘piss’. Other words, such as ‘fuck’ were censored entirely. The rather patronising attitude of the appstore reviewers has annoyed many in the tech world, especially when censored words are freely available in the Apple OSX dictionary.
It reminds me of the days when AOL banned references to the town of Scunthorpe for being offensive.
Following from my previous post about the problems developers are having with the iphone appstore, it seems that Google may have found a solution for Google Voice: optimise it for the iphone web.
Given Apple’s recent track record, it comes as no surprise that Google Voice was banned form the appstore. The reason for this may be less to do with the iphone itself, and more to do with their relationship with carriers/operators such as AT&T in the US or T-Mobile in the UK. It highlights the problem that with the increase in data services and VOIP in 3G networks, mobile operator’s traditional revenues may just dissappear.
Google are probably not too worried about mobile network operators, and are more interested in seeing their apps in the marketplace. According to a report in the New York Times, their solution is to develop a web-based app optimised for the iphone. This is a good solution and in in keeping with Google’s Web 2.0 principles. It may also be a lesson for other developers thrown out of Apples appstore.
Just over a year in to the appstore, the success of it exceeded everyone’s expectations, including those of Steve Jobs. However, a couple of recent stories suggest that developers are having a bit of a tough time with Apple.
It was quite widely reported that the appstore’s recently banned one of it’s most prolific developer, claiming there were breaches of intellectual property rights. What was interesting is that they didn’t just ban one or two offending applications, but according to reports, they removed all of them. Other app developers may be pleased at the banning as the products largely consisted of basic feeds and no real development. These numerous apps could be seen to clogg up the store making it harder for other developers work to be found.
More significantly was the removal of a voice application by VoiceCentral built by a highly reputable developer, Riverturn. The blog about this is interesting, as Apple offered no full explanation other than that it was similar to iphone products. This was in spite of the fact that the app had been previously approved by Apple, and there are other voice applications in the store.
The significance of this is that Apple, having created great demand, now appear to be rather draconian in the way they work with the third party developers. Whilst maintaining quality in the appstore is important to it’s continued success, Apple’s approach to more quality developers will simply drive them to focus on other platforms such as Android and Blackberry. The latter, after all, has a much larger market share.
Further information on iphone apps: