Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Who Cares If Apple Bans Some Porn in Apps Store? Overheated Bloggers, That's Who!

Big deal.

Apple is banning some “sexy” apps in its App Store and not others. So, “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit models are in and some others, such as one called “Dirty Fingers,” get nixed.

Apple’s Phil Schiller, who runs product marketing for the company, told the New York Times yesterday that some sexually suggestive material would be banned, after complaints by App Store users.

“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,” Schiller said to the Times.

On keeping the “Sports Illustrated” app in, Schiller pretty much admitted it was a subjective choice on Apple’s part.

“The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format,” he said.

Of course, it was yet another subjective choice–in a long line of them–by Apple (AAPL).

The company always engenders a lot of controversy, since it does whatever it likes on a wide range of issues, such not using Flash technology in its upcoming iPad.

And what with the introduction of that tablet device soon and its obvious focus on selling it into the mainstream rather than to the sweaty-handed demo, Apple not getting its sexy back and dumping some of the naughtier developers just like that seems to be pretty much expected.

There has been an explosion in the number of sexy apps for the iPod and iPhone, of course, as the platform has grown. They are–no surprise–often among the most popular. And while Apple has parental controls, we all know where sexually suggestive material is allowed to thrive on the Internet, it takes off like kudzu.

That might be fine for a while and for some other app sellers, such as Google (GOOG) and its Android mobile offerings.

But what Apple is doing is not unlike any big retailer, like Walmart (WMT), banning porn sales in stores.

Still, in what can only be described as a really awesome attempt at feigning (traffic-generating) indignation, some bloggers are acting as if Apple just took the the First Amendment and stomped all over it.

And although Apple does do that from time to time, as do many other Web companies, this is business, plain and simple.

Making specious arguments that Apple’s Safari browser lets you surf right over to porn is a dopey comparison of the severely juvenile.

A browser does not approve or recommend, as the App Store does, but it simply a vehicle to get you there, much as a car drives you to a mall.

Once you get to those stores, it is most certainly up to the retailer to decide what it is willing to sell and not sell.

As to the “hypocrisy” of Apple changing its mind on these things, for anyone with even a passing knowledge of Web history, this practice has been all too common.

AOL (AOL), which I dubbed “The House Sex Chat Built” in my first book about the once-popular service, drastically cut back on its sexually controversial stuff as it moved to the mainstream.

In fact, AOL even considered starting a separate gated business that dealt with racier online fare.

Perhaps Apple will do this, creating an area of the App Store that is much more clearly blocked and less accessible.

And perhaps not. After all, it is Apple’s App Store and not subject to collective decision-making by those who think it a basic right to swipe clothes off a lady on the iPhone.

Thus, Apple will–even if it does need to be less opaque about how decisions are made–do as it pleases.

And to those critics who cannot seem to accept this, I predict you won’t ever find the satisfaction you seek.

Perhaps, then, it’s time to get back to contemplating the skin-deep mysteries of Chatroulette.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus