3 Reasons Apple Banned Sex-Themed Apps

Think of the children--but also the business strategy

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For over a week, tech bloggers have been wailing about Apple's decision to ban sexually explicit material from its App Store. The primary complaint pertains to Apple's inconsistency. While banning small-time developers, Apple continues to host sexually charged apps from Playboy and Sports Illustrated. So what was Apple thinking? The company's marketing chief claims they were responding to customer complaints, and made some exceptions for "well-known" brands that have "previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format." Many tech analysts think business strategy is the real motive. Here are three reasons for Apple's ban:

  • The Women and Children, explains Apple's Marketing Chief Philip Schiller: "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." While some tech bloggers take Schiller at his word, many speculate that the upcoming release of the iPad had more to do with it.
  • The iPad, writes Kim-Mai Cutler at VentureBeat: "We think there's a more serious business rationale at play. One of the more plausible reasons is Apple's desire to mass-market the iPad into the classroom ... Educational technology offers the iPad its most obvious initial market, and one that could top $61.9 billion in 2013, according to market research firm Compass Intelligence. Starting at $499, it's cheap enough that school districts and colleges could either purchase it in bulk or push parents to buy it for use in the classroom." The only way into the classroom, reasons Culter, is a squeaky clean image.
  • The iTouch, writes Jeff Bertolucci at ABC News: "Apple's portable media device is wildly popular with kids, who love the gaming, browsing, and audio/video tools ... and Apple realizes its device is a gateway drug to the iPhone. In other words, kids who are comfortable with the iPod touch are more likely to migrate to the iPhone when they're older. Which leads us back to the App Store."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.