Apple’s ban on sex apps from the iTunes App Store is inconsistent

Mon, Feb 22, 2010


Apple is having a difficult time finding an appropriate balance when it comes to deciding what type of apps it should let into the iTunes App Store, and which apps should be given the boot. Most recently, Apple made headlines when it decided to remove all adult-themed apps from the app store without so much as a warning or heads up to developers. According to reports, Apple’s actions were the direct result of customers complaining about explicit content on the app store.

Okay, we’ll play along for now, but Macenstein raises a great question when he asks why Apple is perfectly okay with selling extremely explicit music and films on iTunes but decides to arbitrarily draw the line on explicit apps. Macenstein points out that more than half of the top 10 movies on iTunes are rated R for nudity and sexual content. Meanwhile, 20% of the top 100 selling songs on iTunes are labeled as having explicit lyrics.

And from personal experience, the explicit tag is really understating some of the content you might see on a TV show like HBO’s OZ or hear in the lyrics of rappers like Eazy-E and Ludacris.

Now one might make a case that explicit material in song and film is part of a greater art, and that it serves to tell a story and paint a picture, as opposed to explicit iPhone apps whose sole purpose for being is to display adult-themed content. That’s all well and good, but how, then, can you make sense of the fact that the iTunes App Store still houses a Playboy app which advertises explicit photos from current issues of the magazine? Also, Macenstein points out that a Sports Illustrated app which displays sexy photos of women is still available for download while similar apps, such as BoxScore Babes Girls, were inexplicably kicked to the curb.

To be honest, it’s really hard to make sense of Apple’s app store policies, and indeed, their main problem seems to be that they can’t make a decision and stick to it. Macenstein astutely concludes:

Whether we like it or not, this is not 1980, and seeing girls in bikinis with the word “Babes” under them is actually the tamest thing these kids are likely to encounter. To my mind, naming apps like these with the words “babes” or “boobs” is a good thing, as that is how they will appear on their parent;s credit cards.



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