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Apple's Prudish Indecisiveness Could Sink The iPhone

New adult apps are hitting the iPhone's competitors -- and could bring in customers tired of Apple's puritanical (and capricous) app review process. On the Google Android, MiKandi launched its self-titled app with searchable porn news, erotica and other items. According to PC World, it's the second of two adult apps - the first, Dildroid, was released earlier this year.

As I discuss in my book Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture, pornography often pioneers technology, and sometimes drives the innovation itself. The iPhone has a serious install base lead, but so did Sony when its Betamax faltered at the less technologically advanced VHS from JVC and Panasonic. There were several factors to the '70s VCR battle, but the highlight was Sony barring adult producers from creating pornographic content on Betamax. Indeed, in his book Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the Black Market, esteemed cultural critic Eric Schlosser estimates that by 1979, "75 percent of all the videotapes sold in the United States were hard-core films." Depending on Google's latitude, adult content alone could keep the Android phones current, relevant -- and profitable.

Apple's problem is that it hasn't established what role adult content will play on its closed-circuit system. Bikini photo apps are plentiful, but earlier this year a fully-clothed gay male app AMG was banned from the Apple Store -- just one of several heavily publicized horror stories. Apple has been notoriously fickle when it comes to what is OK and what is not -- and even AMG's creator, when I talked to him for the New York Post, said "I don't think that we're being targeted by the company at large, but I do think that Apple's standards for censoring outside content are just too loose."

Apple doesn't need to allow anything and everything on its devices, but it does need to be clear where the line is drawn -- and that's one thing that Droid Does that iPhone Don't.

Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/bella731/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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