Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apple's Opaque Application Guidelines

While the Jaded Consumer previously argued that Apple's walled-garden approach to application deployment on its mobile devices was a win for security and customer experiences, the news on Apple's hard-to-understand policies on application availability has taken a turn for the strange.

Apple wants content on the iPad, including previously-published-on-pulp content whose vendors have had a rough time as the world has gone digital. However, applications that make amusing photo manipulations but don't include any photo content have been shut out of the store on the grounds that the apps contribute to complaints against the quality of what's visible to children (i.e., are not rated PG or cleaner). Hmm. Anybody notice this app? Ahh, but content from GQ, SI's Swimsuit Issue, or Playboy is safe, even if containing plainly-suggestive content or bald-faced pornography. (Granted, in pornography it's not the face that's typically depicted bald. Still.)

The real answer is obvious: place ratings on content and enable parental controls. Censorship shouldn't be about what Apple will let people view (Apple's position on Playboy and the Swimsuit Issue makes it clear Apple recognizes some material is so widely available that it's pointless to restrict one more outlet), but about making sure people don't accidentally disgust themselves. Want to not hear foul language in music? Want to not see nudity? This stuff is only a click away. Halting eBooks because a character uses a foul word is silly; foul language has been on the required reading in high school for years. The issue is how Apple will make sure that customers' experience is a quality one, not to make sure it's the experience they might find at a Disney attraction.

Get with the program. The quality of the experience is a big part of what makes people love products and shouldn't be ditched over something like a photo manipulation app that makes a user's own photos into a titillating experience.

UPDATE: Apple now reportedly offers an "Explicit" category for applications submitted by developers, which may go live soon. (Or not.)


Anonymous said...

Im curious to what your thoughts are on the quarter...i like the write ups..and the NAV bump...

Jaded Consumer said...

I'm thinking this was a comment about ACAS' 4Q2009 announcement, not Apple's policies in the App Store :-)