Each app in the Apple App Store is individually approved. Image: Flickr / MoneyBlogNewz / CC-BY

Getting an app approved in the Apple iTunes store is famously tough. Apple’s developer guidelines limit anything Apple’s review board considers “over the line.” The recent approval and release (and review as “having no objectionable content) of what is being called a “gay cure app” is leaving many people up in arms.

The so-called gay cure app

Exodus International is a ministry that claims to serve the ex-gay community. The group is very controversial, and regularly draws debate from gay rights advocates. The app approved by the Apple store on Monday morning provides a datastream from Exodus International, including blogs, videos, podcasts, and event announcements from the group.

Apple’s mixed message on gay rights

Many gay rights groups have called for action against Apple because of this “gay cure app.” The argument is that the Exodus International app does, in fact, contain objectionable content and Apple should not have rated it as “safe,” if allowed it on the store at all. The approval of this app, however, provides a very mixed message from Apple Computers. Apple donated $100,000 to fight Proposition 8, California’s initiative that banned gay marriage. Apple has not yet directly addressed the apparent hypocrisy of these two actions.

The controversy of the Apple App Store

Since the first incarnation of the Apple App store, Apple has maintained very tight control of the apps offered. The latest version of App store developer guidelines includes statements such as:

We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask?
Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

We have over 250,000 apps in the App Store. We don’t need any more Fart apps. If your app doesn’t
do something useful or provide some form of lasting entertainment, it may not be accepted.

By maintaining such tight control over the app store, Apple is able to market products as full “experiences” that are under tight control. The problem, however, is that this tight control means that any app Apple approves or denies is seen as a political statement.


ComputerWorld: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9161618/Apple_targets_objectionable_apps_leaves_i_Playboy_i_i_SI_i_in_App_Store_
LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/10/apple-against-t.html
App Store Review Guidelines: http://stadium.weblogsinc.com/engadget/files/app-store-guidelines.pdf

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