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iPad Will Continue Apple's Capricious, Insulting App Policy [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] Apple replies to criticism, says big publishers can do racier content.

Boy, this is getting old. According to TechCrunch, Apple has changed its app policy again to remove "overtly sexual content". The problem? It already let a ton of PG-13 material in when it began loosening up its restrictions last year. Doesn't bode well for Apple getting its act together -- and improving developer relations -- for next month's iPad.

Says TechCrunch:

Apple may have just made a major change to the App Store that could render many developers' applications worthless. We've just heard from Jon Atherton, the developer behind Wobble iBoobs, who says that he just received an Email from Apple indicating that his application was being removed from the App Store because of a new policy change: Apple has apparently decided "to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store." Here's the letter Atherton says he received:

The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored), contains content that we had originally believed to be suitable for distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.

We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.

Sincerely, iPhone App Review

From what I can tell, this isn't an isolated incident. I've tried to download apps called "Exotic Positions" and "Sexy Women", and both of them gave me errors indicating that the applications were no longer available.

So not only has Apple changed its mind again, but it seems to be yanking off apps previously accepted and available -- hurting companies that have started to gain traction and robbing customers of options overnight. Nice job.

Jason Kincaid over at TechCrunch has a great synopsis of the bigger censorship implications, and I have discussed at length that Apple's sophomoric relationship with adult content may be part its mobile downfall.

What is most obvious to me, however, is that Apple has no intention to streamline, clarify or even improve the app-approval process in time for next month's iPad launch. If anything, Apple is making it clear that draconian -- and, worse, capricious -- decisions will be part and parcel of its next generation product. A puritanical platform isn't ideal, but at least take a bloody stand so developers (dependent on the guidelines) and consumers (dependent on the products available) will be able to make informed decisions -- without feeling like children who can be randomly punished.

With more competition than ever, it's an attitude Apple can't afford to have much longer.

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Photo courtesy of Jurvetson CC BY 2.0