A magazine application belonging to the Danish publisher Mediaprovider has been rejected by Apple because its content was exclusively dealing with Android, which is the rival operating system of Apple’s iOS. However, charges that Apple is censoring the content of the App Store are not founded as far as Androidworld Reader, a magazine application coming from the Netherlands, is available on the same store. The App Store has dozens of magazine applications related to other mobile operating systems, but the Android Magasinet being exclusively dedicated to the smartphone operating system of Google has led to its exclusion, according to publisher Brian Dixen.
Since the opening of the App Store, a long-debated question was that of where Apple should draw the line. As an example, Apple forbids any form of nudity in its App Store, even when there is no clear intention of sexuality. Attitudes on the human form are generally very relaxed in Europe compared to those of the United States. This results in the necessity of editing out nudity in advertising and other items when they are offered on the App Store. However, applications with “educational” sexual content are allowed and are frequently present at the top of the best-selling polls and are therefore unknowingly promoted by the App Store. About 5,000 sexually suggestive applications have been purged from the App Store this year in February, but there are others that still remain. Such applications arrive with an age rating, but apart from using Parental Control there is no other way on the App Store to block them from purchasing and being used.
Dixen said that iPhone Magasinet, another of his publications, had absolutely no problem to get approved. He also said that another of his magazines, Gear, which deals with gadgets in general, was featuring on its cover models partially-clothed. Ekstra Bladet, a Danish tabloid, had similar rejections because of the use of an image presenting a “page nine girl”, which is a popular feature in European publications that frequently feature a topless or nude woman inside a magazine in order to keep readers’ attention. German publisher Bild dealt with this restriction in March this year.
The company was also criticized for capricious censorship of language. For example, it has barred classics of literature like James Joyce with Ulysses and Oscar Wilde with The Importance of Being Earnest, but has allowed movies and podcasts full of profanity, with the MPAA rating only to guide buyers. Applications featuring Dalai Llama on the Chinese version of the store and violent comic books where also blocked, while violent movies and TV shows were allowed.
Dixen says that this form of censorship affects the value of the publications. He complains that it is necessary to obtain the approval of every application and every copy of the magazines. Dixen rhetorically asks what would happen if the next issue of the magazine about mobile phones in general presented a theme issue related to Android. According to him, approvals usually take up to two weeks and this could make information to be already out-of-date when it appears.
It is known that Apple itself has had problems with how far and where to control controversial application content and often attracted the anger of the developers. The vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing at Apple, Phil Schiller, said that the company had attempted to answer complaints coming from parents and women. When asked about the Sports Illustrated “Swimsuit Issue” application, which probably expresses the true meaning of the term “salacious”, he explained the difference between it and other similar applications, saying that it was a well-known company and its previously published content was broadly available in a “well-accepted format”.
Dixen added that the incident had been funny because not many magazines on Android would sell through Apple’s App Store. He also pointed out that where this policy would go was the important aspect of the whole topic.