Countless iPhone apps have been removed from the App Store by Apple, many for unknown reasons. From apps that were just dumb (IAmRich) to potantially offensive apps (South Park player) to genuinely useful apps (Box Office), it seems nearly impossible to predict what Apple may or may not deem to be acceptable when it comes to third-party applications.
What if the same agreement that allows Apple to dump apps from the iPhone app store was used by Apple’s competitors, like Microsoft? Can you imagine buying some software, installing it on your PC, and then one day it is just… gone? No explanation, no refund, just gone. There would be absolute uproar. So why isn’t this the case with the iPhone?
Now I can understand why Apple would want to enforce strict policies on the content available for the iPhone. After all, this is a company that has made its fortune by purposely not relying on third parties to develop for its products. Practically every add-on (that is widely used) to any Apple product was, in fact, made by Apple. Rather than letting (and encouraging) any company to develop content the way that Microsoft has, Apple prefers to have maximum control so as to guarantee compatibility and stability.
The problem is: Apple is removing applications based on seemingly arbitrary and nonsensical policies that are impossible to figure out or predict. You literally cannot find out what is or isn’t acceptable, even if you are an app developer.
So where does Apple draw the line? Will the iPhone start to block websites with adult content? What about blocking music with explicit content? What about videos or pictures containing nudity? At what point does Apple say, “This is up to the user, let’s leave it alone”?
If I had an iPhone, I would like to have that Box Office app. I’d also like the South Park app. Why should Apple decide that South Park is not appropriate for me? That is a decision I should be making, and by downloading an app, I am making that decision. Besides, Apple has some pretty obvious double-standards when it comes to what is offensive. There are anywhere between 75 and 100 apps in the app store that simulate farts, for example.
This is nothing less than censorship, and it should be recognized as such. Want to install whatever app you want, without the all-powerful Apple telling you what to do? There’s an app for that! Actually, Apple just removed it. Sorry.