Apple’s App Store moderation process has resulted in a lot of bad press for the gadget giant. Given the amount of positive press they get, you have to question whether they’re all that bothered! But the tight guidelines have seen some seemingly fine apps rejected for a variety of reasons.
Of course, there are some perfectly legitimate rejections too, but the process has been criticised for being far too strict.
That’s not to say, though, that nothing ‘questionable’ has ever made it onto the app store.
Here are three of the most controversial iPhone apps to have ever made it onto the store!
The ‘I am Rich’ iPhone app wasn’t particularly offensive. In fact, it was just displayed an image of a red gem on your iPhone. However, despite its lacking functionality it came wth a rather hefty price tag of $999! Its iTunes description might go some way to understanding why:
“The red icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this. It’s a work of art with no hidden function at all.”
8 people bought the app for its steep asking price before Apple removed it from the app store.
Personally, I struggle to see the issue! It didn’t claim to have any functionality and its description was clear enough. No functionality, but a hefty price tag! Anyone who bought it, surely, knew exactly what they were doing? But despite the fact that Apple would have enjoyed its 30% on every single sale, they decided enough was enough and pulled the app, reportedly after receiving complaints. However, there’s nothing in the terms of service about pricing apps based on functionality…. so what the official reason given was remains a mystery!
There was, however, an official reason given for the removal of ‘Babyshaker.’ Apple stated that this particular iPhone application was “deeply controversial,” and indeed it was.
The application was simple enough in its functionality…. shake the iPhone, thus shake the virtual baby on the screen to “make it stop crying.”
It’s little surprise that this application caused public outrage. There was more negative press aimed at Apple for allowing this onto the App Store in the first place, than was directed at the developer for even creating this highly controversial application.
This, of course, raised serious questions about how tight the screening process is, for someone to be able to get such offensive content onto a platform from which it could attract an audience of potentially millions.
Apple promptly responded to media outcries and public complaints and removed the application.
The Slasher iPhone app was removed from the app store back in August 2008, the same year of removal of both of the previous ones in this post.
The app was simple enough. It displayed an image of a knife and when you made “stabbing motions” with the phone, it played a “horror” type sound.
However, its simple functionality raised some unwanted attention from groups in the UK who argued that this could encourage violence. Despite claims to the contrary by many, Apple pulled the plug on this freebie app, citing one of its terms and conditions that stipulates that “objectionable” material is not allowed.
You could argue that “objectionable” is entirely down to personal opinion, of course, but what that clause has proved to be is Apple’s get out clause when an app results in mass controversy.
Interestingly enough, some of the most high profile app store removals were almost two years ago. Has Apple tightened up its screening process since then? You would think so. However, where there’s a mass audience, controversy can come from the most unexpected corners, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see more stories like these arising in the future!
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About the Author
Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she's a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US - including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.Visit Stacey's Page
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