Apple bans some racy apps without notice

Apple has been the darling of the tech crowd for years, but will they remain so if they keep acting like dicks?

Apple’s App Store has become a huge money-making opportunity for developers, but now Apple is starting to behave in a way that can piss off the developer community. Banning apps without notice, while leaving alone similar apps from huge companies like Sports Illustrated and Playboy, will definitely get some attention.

Apple has started banning many applications for its iPhone that feature sexually suggestive material, including photos of women in bikinis and lingerie, a move that came as an abrupt surprise to developers who had been profiting from such programs.

The company’s decision to remove the applications from its App Store over the last few days indicates that it is not interested in giving up its tight control over the software available there, even as competitors like Google take a more hands-off approach.

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Many software developers have long complained about Apple’s strict screening process and, at times, seemingly arbitrary decisions about what was acceptable in the App Store. The company’s latest move, which was first reported by TechCrunch, did little to change their minds.

Fred Clarke, co-president of a small software company called On the Go Girls, which made Sexy Scratch Off, said that as of Monday all 50 of his company’s applications were no longer available. They included an application in which a woman wearing a swimsuit appeared to wipe finger marks from the iPhone’s screen with a rag and spray bottle.

“I’m shocked,” said Mr. Clarke, who said the company had not had a problem with its applications since the first one went on sale last June. “We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much.”

Mr. Clarke said his company had been earning thousands of dollars a day from the App Store.

“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?”

So what’s the standard here? Babes in bikinis are OK, but only if they come from a big company like SI?

MG Siegler blasts Apple for its hypocrisy in a scathing post on TechCrunch, but as he points out this will probably blow over as long as Apple continues to dominate this market. That said, we’re seeing a significant backlash against their arbitrary policies. Let’s hope more people call them out on it.


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