After purging over 5,000 “overtly sexual” apps from the App Store over the last few days, Apple’s head of worldwide product marketing has come forward yet again to defend the company’s decision. The New York Times has a detailed report on the latest App Store scandal, which began somewhat quietly last Wednesday with the removal of a seemingly innocent app called Wobble iBoobs and quickly escalated over the weekend with the removal of over 5,000 apps which Apple deemed too sexy for their store.
In an interview with Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of worldwide product marketing, the executive noted that over the last few weeks a “small number of developers” had 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 degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see,” Schiller explained.
Of course, since the App Store doesn’t allow nudity to begin with, Schiller’s comments might echo last summer’s Google Voice controversy, which saw the denial of Google’s own app as well as the withdrawal of a trio of third-party apps -- an injustice that, months later, still has yet to be turned around.
In the case of the current controversy, while sexy apps from smaller companies such as Sexy Scratch Off -- which shows a woman whose dress can be removed at the swipe of a finger -- have been removed, others from big-time publishers such as Playboy and Sports Illustrated remain in the store. “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format,” Schiller said in defense of that decision.
“At the end of the day, Apple has a brand to maintain,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told the Times. “And the bottom line is they want that image to be squeaky clean.”
Fred Clarke, co-president of Sexy Scratch Off creator On the Go Girls, went from 50 successful apps over the weekend to zero on Monday. “I’m shocked,” said Clarke. “We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much,” noting that his company had been earning thousands of dollars a day from the App Store with no complaints since the apps went live last June.
“It’s very hard to go from making a good living to zero,” he said. “This goes farther than sexy content. For developers, how do you know you aren’t going to invest thousands into a business only to find out one day you’ve been cut off?”
Schiller says that he feels Clarke’s pain: “We obviously care about developers, but in the end have to put the needs of the kids and parents first."