The App Store Porn Purge – Why Apple is Right

22Feb10

Photo by shibuya86, via sxc.hu

There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth recently over Apple’s decision to pull all pornographic Apps from the iTunes App Store. However, their decision is right for Apple’s customers, right for their developers, and right for their shareholders. Find out why after the jump.

Why it’s right for Apple’s customers

Since it’s launch, Apple has sold 75 million iPhone and iPod touch devices. Many of those, especially the iPod touches, have been bought by parents for their children. Others have been bought by educational authorities to give to students. Thus, a large percentage of Apple’s customers are children and their parents or teachers.

Upon browsing the App Store, many parents and teachers would be horrified to see numerous soft-core semi-pornographic apps. They may jump to the conclusion that such apps contain content much worse than they actually do (Apple never allowed any actual nudity). They may also not be aware of the parental controls built-in to the device.

Just seeing the apps listed there would be enough for some to refuse to buy iPhones or iPod touches for their children or students. By removing the apps entirely, Apple is giving their customers peace of mind, and showing them that Apple will never try to sell unsuitable sexual content to their children.

Customers who are adults and who haven’t had their parents keep the household Wi-Fi password secret from them, can still access all the smut they want through the Safari browser.

Why it’s right for Apple’s developers

Getting your App noticed in the App store is difficult enough, among all the garbage that is sold. There are fart apps, novelty apps, apps that do nothing, apps that are simply advertisements, apps that simply load RSS feeds, etc. A simple look at the “Free” section of the App store shows the plethora of tacky garbage currently available.

Indeed, the App store has quickly degenerated into a collection of largely poor-quality rubbish, most of which is coded by amateurs. Genuine developers with good ideas have to compete with the white noise of thousands of worthless concoctions.

By removing the soft porn apps, Apple has helped to clean up the store, and uplifted the whole atmosphere. Porn is, by it’s very nature, usually trashy, tacky, cheap, and worthless. Their presence helped drag the rest of the store down, along with expectations of App usefulness and quality.

I would argue that it’s much better for developers to sell their wares on a store with as little tacky rubbish as possible. Would you want your App listed next to some free, unsophisticated App, with “Boobs” in the title?

Of course, you may object and point out that, following this line of reasoning, Apple should ban all the rubbish Apps, such as the ones that make fart noises. Well, there is a small but crucial difference. Fart apps, and the like, are silly immature toys for children. Porn apps, however, are smutty and immature titillation for grown-ups. Kids toys are kids toys, no one really minds, it doesn’t drag everyone else down around it — but cheap porno smut? Not the same thing.

Why it’s right for Apple’s shareholders

What must also be considered is Apple’s profits and corporate image. By shunning porn apps from the store, Apple will avoid off-putting millions of parents and thousands of schools from buying their products.

Even if Apple were to create a special “Adult” section of the App store — controlled by the App ratings system — this would damage their corporate image. How so? Apple would then be allowing and controlling the sale of trashy soft core porn. In effect, Apple would become a porn publisher. That is not good for the corporation’s image, especially among the more religious population (such as the United States and Muslim nations) and those who hold to traditional values (such as in China and India).

Here’s a thought: remember that Apple’s CEO – Mr Steve Jobs – is also on the board of Disney. He is, in fact, Disney’s biggest shareholder. Thus, Apple and Disney’s biggest single shareholder is the same man. He even owned Pixar, which is now part of Disney and makes Disney’s biggest blockbusters. In effect, you could say that Mr Jobs is the new Walt Disney. Could you imagine Mr Walt Disney owning a company that distributes and sells soft-core porn? Hardly.

Conclusion

Whether you are a parent, education authority, developer, or Apple shareholder – the decision to shun all pornographic Apps from the iTunes App Store is the right one.

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