Jon Atherton at Chillifresh, the app developer of Wobble, has posted what he says are Apple's new rules regarding sexual content in an iPhone app:
I have spoken with Apple, and the following are the new rules:
- No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)
- No images of men in bikinis! (I didn't ask about Ice Skating tights for men)
- No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)
- No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs
- No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned
- Nothing that can be sexually arousing!!
- No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but ...)
I've said this before, but I am glad that Apple has made these changes (pulling stupid "sexy" apps). I'm sick of seeing a "Hot Asians" app show up in every category (from Entertainment to Productivity to Utilities). The "sexy" apps were getting out of control, and they started to show up so much it was making it even harder to find good apps in the App Store.
There's a good chance that this is the reason Apple has decided to pull those apps and not, as Atherton insinuates, that Apple has imposed some sort of Sharia law on the App Store – which is pretty insulting to Islam's 1.3 billion members. The fact that Playboy is still available while thousands of junk "sexy" apps have been purged should be evidence enough that Apple is going after these cheap clutter apps and hasn't actually launched a war on sexuality.
Is Apple handling this in the best way? Perhaps not. I think Apple could create a new category of "sexy" apps that could be disabled in iTunes' preferences (or, even better, require an opt-in from users before they're visible). Apple's not the only vendor that chooses to exclude some content in its store. Best Buy, for example, doesn't allow hardcore porn to be sold in its stores. That's not censorship -- there are plenty of other places customers can go to get what they're looking for other than Best Buy.
The problem with this analogy, of course, is that for most iPhone owners, there's only one App Store, and no place else to go for adult-themed apps.