Apple 'Baby Shaker' App Could Change Rules for Developers

Apple removes its controversial "Baby Shaker" application, in which users could virtually "shake" an infant quiet, from the App Store. However, questions remain as to whether such incidents will change Apple's approach to approving applications. On April 22, Apple announced its best-ever results for a non-holiday fiscal quarter, which included shipping 3.7 million iPhones.

Apple removed the controversial "Baby Shaker" application, in which users could "shake" a virtual infant quiet using their iPhone, from the App Store.

Representatives from Apple confirmed that the application, which cost 99 cents, had been removed, but made no comment on how it had passed the initial review process. The application's developer, Sikalosoft, produces another application called Dice Mosaic, which does not involve shaking the iPhone.

Apple often accompanies the pulling of applications with a reason to support the decision. It has previously yanked applications due to objectionable content, including "Slasher," which let users run around with a virtual knife. That particular application was pulled in August 2008.

The iPhone SDK agreement apparently includes this:

"Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Apple has a history of pulling applications with sexual or violent content, although applications such as Zombieville USA, a game with cartoon-like graphics in which the user's virtual avatar bloodily repels zombies with a shotgun, remain downloadable on the site. The question going forward is, will Apple apply more stringent oversight to applications in order to weed out potential controversies such as "Baby Shaker"?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, on April 22, Apple announced the company's best-ever results for a non-holiday fiscal quarter, shipping 2.2 million Macs, 11.01 million iPods, and 3.7 million iPhones in the quarter. Earnings were $8.16 billion, up from $7.51 billion the same quarter in 2008, with gross margins of 36.4 percent.

"Apple's financial condition remains very robust, with almost $29 billion in cash and marketable securities on our balance sheet," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple CFO, said in a statement accompanying the earnings results. He also hinted that the App Store was "hours" away from its billionth download, but the ticker on Apple's Web site has slowed since that time.

As of 9:30 a.m. EDT on April 23, the ticker was a little less than two million applications away from hitting that magic number.

The App Store currently offers some 25,000 applications, nearly a billion of which have been downloaded since the store's July 2008 launch. The most-downloaded free applications include Facebook for iPhone and Google Earth.

In recent months, companies such as SAP, Citrix and have been rolling out mobile versions of their solutions, helping to make the iPhone a more enterprise-centric device. When iPhone OS 3 rolls out in June 2009, it will include 100 new features and an updated software development kit that will presumably allow developers to make the device even more robust from a business perspective.