First it was Babyshaker, then Trent Reznor and now it's Jesus. Apple is putting the kibosh on applications developed for its App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch claiming they are offensive or contain questionable content.
The moves come as Apple cracks down on applications, tightening its restrictions for would-be iPhone application developers.
Yesterday, Apple rejected the "Me So Holy" application, an iPhone app that lets users put other faces over an image of Jesus Christ. Apple called the app objectionable, citing the iPhone agreement that indicates "applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.) or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."
An application that allows users to give Jesus a new face may be questionable, but "obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory?" To some, maybe. To others, not so much.
Just a week before deep-sixing the Jesus app, Apple rejected, but then reinstated an application update from Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor. The "nin: access" app, which let users stream music and video from the Nine Inch Nails homepage was deemed "offensive or obscene" due to the content of one song, "The Downward Spiral." Reznor battled back and the application was ultimately resurrected.
All of this comes after Apple recently banned an application dubbed "Babyshaker," a game that showed a crying baby that would quiet down only after the user violently shook the smartphone, essentially shaking the baby to death. Babyshaker appeared in the App Store and was later removed, with Apple calling the application offensive and in poor taste.
While those are just a handful of recent examples of applications that never were, or were and then were not, Apple appears to be getting more stringent with what it puts in its App Store. Yet, despite its attention to certain apps, Apple still lets a host of other applications through; applications that mimic fart sounds, urination and other bodily functions get top billing in the App Store.
No one is arguing that "Me So Holy" or Babyshaker could be considered offensive to some and may turn off some users, but so could fart jokes and other tasteless humor. While Apple feels like its protecting its beloved iPhone users from the evils of the world by not granting them access to an application that makes light of Jesus or features a song with explicit content, it should ultimately be up to the users to determine what they deem offensive.
In most cases, a questionable application will just vanish -- or at least fall so far to the bottom of a menu that no one will ever find it -- as interest wanes and users stop downloading. It's the App Store's version of survival of the fittest.
If Apple fears that younger iPhone users could be exposed to offensive content, it could easily place age restrictions on certain applications created for more mature audiences.
No one is saying that the applications Apple has recently ousted aren't in poor taste, but who is Apple to determine what its audience should or shouldn't access? There are songs available through iTunes that feature explicit lyrics; are those next on the chopping block?
And Apple's hammer of authority and censorship also raises an interesting question as it pairs up with Amazon's popular Kindle e-reader.
The Amazon Kindle/iPhone partnership features a Kindle Store that lets iPhone and iPod touch users buy books directly from their Safari browser. Since its release, the Kindle app for the iPhone has become the iPhone's most popular e-book application.
It would stand to reason that a host of books out there feature content that could be considered explicit or offensive by some audiences. If Apple is looking to preserve the integrity of content accessed from the iPhone, who's to say the company won't start filtering content for the Kindle or banning and limiting access to books that it also determines could offend some users?
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