21st February 2010
Yesterday Apple started removing apps from its App store if they contain "overtly sexual content", it has since been said that Apple will actually remove apps for content such as swim suits or ice skating tights. Developers of such applications received no notice of the upcoming change in policy, they were just notified that their app was being removed from the store.
For the subset of developers who have built such apps, this may mean that their entire income, possibly their only income if they have quit their job to make iPhone apps full-time, has been cut to zero with no warning. This is not to mention the months of hard work wasted in building the now defunct app.
Apps have a lot to do with the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch, highlighted by the main marketing campaign behind the products, 'There's an app for that'. Apple have, in my opinion, been very clever by employing strict rules their App store. The checks each app for quality and consistency to ensure consumer confidence is very high when buying apps. However, removing existing apps without warning the devlopers is surely going to hurt the relationship between Apple and it's developer community.
Why are Apple pushing this policy change through when surely they know it's going to upset a lot of app developers and make many more wary of building apps for the platform?
Apple relies heavily on partnerships with companies such as the record labels and newspaper companies for music and news content. Could one of these companies have demanded that they not be associated with a product that also contains such 'adult' apps? That would at least explain why Apple chose to block the sale of the apps even though iPhones already have full parental control features.
Whatever the reason, Apple have made a serious PR bumble. They are often a role-model for companies regarding PR. This time though Apple have dropped the ball. Over the next few weeks I am sure we will here several stories from former iPhone developers saying why building Apple apps is risky and it is going to enusure that new developers think twice before they invest their time and money in building an iPhone app.