Apple finally responds to App Store controversies
By now, it's a familiar story: Apple rejects an iPhone application, this one a mobile version of online dictionary Ninjawords, on grounds the app contains objectionable content. The difference this time is that Apple is explaining its actions in public. Daring Fireball first reported on Ninjawords developer Matchstick Software's struggles to earn approval for the premium app, which finally hit the App Store with a 17+ parental control rating despite bowing to Apple's decree that all "objectionable" words (among them "ass" and "screw") be purged to earn approval. Apple rejected Ninjawords three separate times before finally greenlighting the app--according to Matchstick developer Phil Crosby "Someone from Apple called [a Matchstick Software colleague] to tell him that we were being rejected again for illicit content [and] no matter what we did to our dictionary, it will have to be 17+ to make it to the App Store."
Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller quickly responded to the Daring Fireball article, sending the blog an email to state he investigated Ninjawords' account with the App Store review team. "Apple did not censor the content in this developer's application and Apple did not reject this developer's application for including references to common swear words. You accused Apple of both in your story and the fact is that we did neither," Schiller states. "The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable." Schiller adds that Apple did not ask Matchstick to censor Ninjawords content, but that the developer made that decision on its own to accelerate the app's time to market. "Even though the developer chose to censor some terms, there still remained enough vulgar terms that it required a parental control rating of 17+," Schiller continues. "You are correct that the Ninjawords application should not have needed to be censored while also receiving a 17+ rating, but that was a result of the developers' actions, not Apple's."
Apple also responded to an Unofficial Apple Weblog article on a series of recent ebook app rejections, speculating the computing giant was treading carefully over third-party rights concerns. "We have not stopped approving ebook readers and ebooks--in fact we've approved 221 new ebooks to the App Store since 7/30/09," an Apple spokesperson writes in an email to TUAW. "The book category in the App Store lists 6,000 apps and this doesn't cover the full scope since ebooks are included in other categories like medical, reference and education."
For more on the App Store policy clarification:
- read this Daring Fireball post