Yesterday the New York Times Business section ran a story about how Apple is pulling the plug on iPhone apps featuring sexually suggestive content.
“It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see,” [Apple head of marketing] Mr. Schiller said.
You may recall that one of those complainers was SarahMC, who almost a year ago posted about the creepy, objectifying and racist “Cute Asian Girls” app.
“At the end of the day, Apple has a brand to maintain,” said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who keeps a close eye on the company. “And the bottom line is they want that image to be squeaky clean.”
I don’t think it’s about “squeaky clean”; I think it’s not wanting the iPhone to be the go-to device for degrading sexist “entertainment.” Women–including a few of us Harpies–are loyal iPhone users, and not wanting to piss off half your consumer base is common sense (Something for other companies to consider before next year’s Superbowl.)
“I’m shocked,” said [app developer] Mr. Clarke, who said the company had not had a problem with its applications since the first one went on sale last June. “We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much.”
If we’re going to split hairs like that, I’ll point out that Clarke’s sexxxy wimminz apps are not outright wank material…but not by much.
Clarke also wants you to know that it’s hard out there for an app pimp:
Mr. Clarke said his company had been earning thousands of dollars a day from the App Store.
“It’s very hard to go from making a good living to zero,” he said. “This goes farther than sexy content. For developers, how do you know you aren’t going to invest thousands into a business only to find out one day you’ve been cut off?”
Boo fucking hoo. Welcome to free market capitalism, pal. When you make a tasteless product that offends people, you risk losing the market for your product. Next time try making an app that’s useful for something other than helping dudebros get their jollies.
Another app developer called Apple out for applying a double standard:
“Sports Illustrated still has an application available. How come that hasn’t been pulled?”
Indeed, a Sports Illustrated application tied to its annual swimsuit issue was still available for download on Monday, as was one from Playboy.
When asked about the Sports Illustrated app, Mr. Schiller said Apple took the source and intent of an app into consideration. “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format,” he said.
He has a point. Personally, I find Sports Illustrated Swimsuits and Playboy to be marginally less exploitative, but ultimately, SI and Playboy are providing the same wank-y erotic “entertainment.” Their apps should be pulled too. If Apple is going to apply the “no sexually suggestive” standard, they must apply it to well-known brands as well as the independent developers. While they’re at it, I hope they dump Cosmo’s Sex Position of the Day” app as well, which is ostensibly aimed at women.
At any rate, this development was a pleasant reminder that enough individuals complaining about creepy misogynist shit can turn the tide against the creepsters. Usually I don’t think we should applaud corporations when they’re obviously just acting in their best interests, but in this case I give Apple credit for taking the negative feedback to heart.