Puritanical Apple Bans Certain Apps from iPhone

Apple may be censoring adult-themed apps from its App Store, according to developers who supposedly received e-mails about the matter signed "iPhone App Review." Online reports seem to indicate that certain apps are indeed being pulled from the online storefront. Apple has a history of removing apps from the App Store for a number of reasons, ranging from objectionable content to developers allegedly posting fake reviews. As Apple's iPad tablet PC prepares for release, the number of apps currently in development is climbing, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry.

Apple may be censoring adult-themed apps, according to developers to claim their more explicit offerings have been pulled from the company's App Store in recent days.

According to a Feb. 18 report on TechCrunch, developer Jon Atherton received an e-mail from Apple stating that one of his applications contained "content that we had originally believed to be suitable for distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complains from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately."

The purposed Apple e-mail, signed by "iPhone App Review," went on to add: "We have decided to remove any overtly [adult] content from the App Store, which includes your application...Thank you for your understanding in this matter."

Throughout Feb. 19, online reports seemed to indicate that a number of explicit apps had indeed been pulled from the App Store. While Apple has a history of pulling apps that incite popular protest, it also is notoriously quiet about policy changes.

In April 2009, Apple yanked a "Baby Shaker" app, which let users "shake" a virtual infant quiet on the iPhone, and issued an apology. A clause in the iPhone SDK agreement states that "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind." The next month, Apple also pulled "Me So Holy," an application that attracted protests over its supposed religious insensitivity.

Apple has also been pulling apps for other reasons. In December, the company yanked more than 1,000 applications by a developer, Molinker, which users accused of posting false positive reviews for its products.

Apple's App Store has been expanding rapidly, with research firm IDC predicting its number of apps will expand to 300,000 by the end of 2010. That growth will likely pressure Apple further to weed out developers who attempt to flood the store with useless applications or otherwise attempt to rig the system.

The upcoming release of Apple's iPad tablet PC may also be impelling a spike in third-party developers creating wares for the App Store. According to mobile analytics company Flurry, the number of iPhone OS application starts spiked in January 2010. Apple has been encouraging developers to download the new iPhone SDK 3.2 beta in order to create programs for the iPad, which Apple is predicting will launch within the next two months with more than 140,000 applications capable of running on its 9.7-inch LED backlit multitouch display.

However, Flurry also noted that the retention curves for aggregated iPhone and Google Android applications were nearly identical, while IDC also predicts a massive rise in the number of developers designing programs for Android devices. That suggests that competition between Apple and Google within the mobile space is only beginning to heat up.