Apple Tackles Banning Sex Apps

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There have been reports in the press for several days that Apple (AAPL) is removing apps with sexual content from its App Store. Now the huge consumer electronics and computer company has said directly that it has killed some of these applications and may kill more. Phil Schiller, the head of worldwide product management, explained to The New York Times, "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."Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, told the The Times that sexually oriented apps may be as much as 5% of the content that can be downloaded at the App Store. While Apple's comments indicate that it has banned most of the sexy programs, a quick look at the App Store shows that content from both Playboy (PLA) and Penthouse is still available, as are applications called "Sexy Dice" and "Sex Positions--Magic of SEX--Karmasutra." The sex position app claims it has had two million downloads in less than two weeks.

Some analysts say that Apple has made the move because they are concerned that the content is available to children; an issue raised by Schiller who said, "We obviously care about developers, but in the end have to put the needs of the kids and parents first." That would make sense if all sex-related apps were gone from the store, but there are still many available.

There are several reasons that sex-related apps are still up at the App Store. One may be that Apple cannot police all of the content at its own store. But a simple search of applications shows that many of those with sexual content are still easy to find. Another explanation may be that Apple has arrangements with companies like Playboy under which the app developers have promised to keep their content "tame."

Apple's decision to keep certain racy apps out of its store may be censorship, but Apple is Apple and usually does what it wants.
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