Apple's App Store Is A Double-edged Sword
Yesterday, Vine, the app that allows you to make six second videos received quite a bit of heat from the accidental slip up when a porn video appeared in its Editor’s Picks section of the app. It didn’t take long for that news to spread like wild fire and shortly thereafter, Apple stopped promoting Vine in the App Store, despite its success. Prior to Vine’s troubles, an app called 500px was removed from the App Store due to porn being too easily accessible via the app. As of today, the 500px app is back in the App Store with a new rating of 17+ and a report image feature.
With all of this going on recently, I couldn’t help but wonder how apps such as HBO GO and MAX GO have been in the App Store for such a long time now with constant promotion and never were victims of porn complaints. While I realize you need an ISP’s account to login to them, have we forgotten that there are many kids have ISP email accounts? Provided your parents pay for one or both of those premium channels, it’s easy to gain access to the app. Just login with your ISP email and password and you’re off. There is no verification beyond that.
I understand that both apps are rated 17+, but when has that ever stopped someone? Speaking of app ratings, Vine has an app rating of 12+ and probably shows more graphic material than any of the content on either HBO GO or MAX GO. But I digress.
To top it all off, MAX GO flat out promotes its adult content in the description of the app. Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt of the app’s description for the App Store — this is the first line of the description (emphasis added is our own).
Introducing MAX GO®. The streaming service from Cinemax®. Instantly access over 400 of the biggest Hollywood hit movies, indie favorites, and Max After Dark Series – now available on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch!
And if that wasn’t enough, the MAX After Dark tab is front and center in the app.
So I guess the question is: What is acceptable in the App Store? Is there a strict no porn policy or isn’t there? If you set your app to a 17+ rating, does that fix everything?
For Apple, the App Store is a double-edged sword, they want to keep the App Store clean and have the best apps. And to do that is not always easy, as any photo or video app can easily be used to store and/or share adult content. To be fair, so far, I think Apple has done a fairly good job managing the App Store all things considered.
Nonetheless, what it really comes down to is that Apple needs these apps in order to continue the company’s massive success, so it’s not easy to just remove an app and not let it back in. As I’ve said in the past, it’s all about the apps. People go to where the apps are. And if people can get HBO GO, etc on Android and not on iOS they will buy Android tablets and smartphones and not iPad’s and iPhone’s, which is something Apple just can’t (and won’t) let happen.