yARN: On why I feel sorry for Apple

yARN: On why I feel sorry for Apple

The much-maligned App censorship practices are no where near as "bad" as others

Apple can’t do anything right.

At a time when game consoles and mobile devices are facilitating a boom in downloads and online activity (as with Microsoft and its Xbox platform, Sony and its Playstation 3 platform, and Nintendo with its DSi handheld console), public attention is very much on “Apps”, and what they can do.

And despite some controversies in other areas of the vendor’s business, Apple is still the Elvis Presley of apps. But for all its glamour, there is a decidedly negative undertone creeping into the service.

In recent times, Apple has allowed a “baby shaker” App onto its wildly popular store, and it got blasted for allowing filth onto innocent users' screens.

The App featured a drawing of a baby. The object of the game is to stop the baby from crying by shaking the iPhone until red Xs appear over its eyes. Understandably, this upset some people.

It then censored something else that it claimed is objectionable and it got blasted for being the new Soviet regime.

That something was a dictionary called Ninjawords. This time, a different group of people were upset that a dictionary which already carried a “mature” age rating would be censored.

Censorship is typically a lose-lose deal for vendors, who have to guess at the atomically-thin line between what doesn’t offend enough people to what offends just a few too many people. Unfortunately for Apple, of late, its guesswork is misfiring badly.

It’s now at the point where Apple is being investigated for its App rejection process.

Of course, with over 65,000 Apps available, you have to wonder just how important it is that the Ninjaword dictionary is censored.

And what most users don’t seem to realise is while the occasional App will be rejected, modified or removed from the App store, it is not a closed system.

In an interview with Pocket Gamer, a number of developers explained the difference between Apple’s App store and Nintendo’s equivalent WiiWare and DSiWare stores.

WiiWare and DSiWare software has to go through a far stricter testing process and costs much more to get approved.

The flipside? There are fewer than 50 titles available on the DSiWare. WiiWare offers only slightly more, and combined they offer not a patch on 65,000. There are applications what would get rejected by Nintendo in a heartbeat which would be best sellers on the iPhone.

Perhaps the few hundred Ninjaword fans around the world should factor that broader picture into their ranting.

That said, judging from a number of comments made by developers following rejected applications, there seems to be more contention with the process – that apps are not rejected until after they’ve been developed – than anything else, which is fair enough.

At least with Nintendo you’ll have a middling-to-good idea about whether your App idea will fit into its DSiWare vision before you get into the coding.

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Tags Appleiphone app storenintendo dsinintendo wii


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