Apple, Sex, and Corporate Values

| Hidden Dimensions

“Sex on television can’t hurt you unless you fall off.”

— Unknown.

A Danish newspaper is greatly annoyed with Apple’s App Store policies. Apple has even been accused of censorship in several protest articles because the newspaper app, which contains a nude photo feature, was rejected. Why is Apple doing this, why is the discussion so heated, and what can Apple do about it?

There is a time honored technique, around much of the world, to use sex to sell goods. And by sex, I mean something so innocent as a pretty woman selling laundry soap or something as upsetting as a glimpse of a strangled female movie star to lure people into a crime drama. Even so, the networks have standards and practices groups that dictate just how far these scenes can go.

In fact, we expect corporations to have values, everywhere we turn. We expect oil companies to take considered, careful technical measures to protect the earth’s environment. We expect companies that sell food to provide oversight on the quality of what we eat. We expect our insurance companies to have integrity and not throw legal trickery at families with children dying of cancer. In every aspect of western culture, we expect companies to obey the law, but more than that, to demonstrate sound moral values.

Censorship and sex

Apple’s Pickle

Apple has made a conscious decision to curate apps. They can’t be harmful and they can’t inappropriately violate a person’s privacy. Apple does this for a reason, which I’ll get into in a minute. But one might first ask if they have a right to do that. I’ll argue that just because Apple never enforced that right on Apple IIs and Macintoshes, doesn’t mean that they can’t start — in a much more vicious Internet atmosphere that arrived long after the first Apple II in 1977 and first Macintosh in 1984.

Companies enforce their rights to protect their customers all the time. Restaurants reserve the right to refuse services to a customer who may be packing a legal, unconcealed firearm lest their own customers become unduly alarmed. Newspapers are not compelled by law to accept ads from terrorist organizations. Cities have the right to enforce a no smoking law in certain buildings, public and private, recognizing their responsibility to protect citizens from harmful cigarette smoke.

These are all laudable values by companies. But let those values get in the way of a businessman who wants to use sex to market his goods, and watch the fur fly.

Apple’s approach is, in my opinion, based on two concepts. First, it has a right and a responsibility to protect its own customers, and if Apple doesn’t, it’ll be found liable in some instances. If it doesn’t do this, the company will be sued anyway, and it’ll be shown that Apple didn’t exercise due diligence — in fact implicitly condoned bad app behavior. Second, Apple recognizes the Internet’s dirty little secret: Apps that appeal to customers because of their sexual content, harmless though they appear on the surface, often use that appeal to engage in scurrilous, under the hood activity. For example, stealing credit card numbers, or reporting your location to car thieves.

Another fact of legal life that’s conveniently ignored is that angry victims take out their anger not only on the creator of the offending product, but also the conveyer of that product.

For example, if a restaurant customer finds piece of a mouse carcass in her hamburger, she’ll not only sue the company that ground the hamburger but also the restaurant for not exercising due diligence in the food they served her. If an Apple customer is financially harmed by an app, who’s he going to sue? A little one man outfit in, say, Berlin? Or Apple, a company with deep pockets, for not protecting him. This happens all the time, and victims win because of juror sympathy for the little guy.

This will become even more important when our smartphones become our digital wallets.

Even though Apple tries to balance freedom of expression against the safety of its customers, there are those who cry foul. There are unscrupulous businessmen who want complete freedom to dupe their customers at Apple’s expense. Some even, outrageously, claim censorship. So far, Apple has stood its ground, but there may be a compromise.

A Way Out

Apple so far has not seen fit to create an adult version of the App Store. In some cases, the company has asked customers to certify that they’re at least 17 years old by touching a button, but that hasn’t kept Apple from prohibiting certain apps that they believe are using sex to lure customers. Yes, it’s a line in the sand, but it does create confidence on the part of the customer who’s about to install an app.

What about an adult’s right to chose and take responsibility for his or her actions? I agree with that. If Apple were to set up a mechanism, an adult section of the App store, with proper legal and practical considerations, it would make a lot of people happy, and the whole problem would, I believe, just go away. For example, Apple could require a customer to enter a name, street address, and a driver’s license number. That data could be then checked for validity in a court case — if the customer decided to sue anyway. Apps there could be paid apps only, a factor that seems to weigh on this. And, I believe, Apple could enforce a terms of service that prohibits legal action if the app turns out to harm the customer. A customer might even have to sign a piece of paper and mail it in, distasteful as that may be to a company out to save our trees.

I’m not a logal expert. These are just my personal observations and opinions, put forward for your consideration. I’m sure all of our astute readers will weigh in, including “Nemo” who can help clarify the legalities.

The fundamental issue here, it seems to me, is that our society, in 2010, tends to think in terms of only what’s legal and not legal. When a company takes a moral, practical stand that has underlying legal and business implications, we become annoyed. The wild, wild west businessmen on the Internet become infuriated. They, in turn appeal to governments to take away the rights of a company that is exercising its own rights to have corporate values and protect its customers. It’s not a pretty sight.

Apple could make both sides happy with a formal, properly configured adult App Store. Then, those who want to carry the burden of risk themselves can do so freely, and we can all move on.

Let the discussion begin.

Comments

warlock

John, KUDOS for a very well presented and thoughtful article.
I agree that Apple should consider building an adult app store, with real safeguard such as you suggested or better ones if they have them, then caveat emptor ie: let the buyer beware & responsible for their own purchases and the use of them.

mrmwebmax

+

A well thought-out article, indeed. However, from Apple’s perspective, why face the potential risks of such an app store (minors downloading adult apps, for example), when the app store is wildly successful as it is? Furthermore, I fully support Apple’s right to reject any app for any reason. No brick-and-mortar Christian bookstore is ever accused of censorship for not putting Playboy on its shelves—it’s their right not to do so. As for Apple, their app store should be considered no different.

Furthermore, from a PR standpoint, I just don’t see the benefits outweighing the risks. We who follow Apple and participate in sites such as this are immersed in this stuff every day. The parents who want to buy their kids iPod Touches for Christmas aren’t. They just want to be confident in their purchases, and with iOS devices surpassing hand-held gaming systems like PSP, consumers have expressed their confidence with their dollars.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Apple can’t keep up with the demand for iOS products. They don’t need adult apps. And I’m sure plenty of adults know that if they want to view such content, they can always use Safari and visit adult websites.

So long as said content on those sites isn’t in Flash, of course. smile

Modena

I think Apple is smart to keep out the porn in the app store. It’s harder to enforce parental controls on such a personal device.

I do very little web browsing on my iPhone - I rather get my information delivered to me in the form of an app that makes it easier and more convenient to consume.

I suspect that Apple deems that too great a risk and would undercut the youth market that is propelling a lot of its growth and securing its future.

Daniel

Come on, now, John! There is a difference between the kind of stuff that might be sold or displayed in an adult store and a newspaper that contains one page with a topless woman! In much of Europe, topless beaches are the norm. and people do not grow up thinking they are perverts because they see nipples on a regular basis.

I think it’s frightening that you would even consider this newspaper’s application an adult app based on its contents. Do you really think anyone is going to use a Danish-language app to see a daily bare female chest when these things can be seen all over the Internet? Are you really unable to make the distinction between nudity and pornography?

Surely we have more serious problems to worry about than this prudish display of misplaced Victorianism!

-dk-

dhp

This is exactly why we should not be hoping for any one company (Apple or not) to “win” the media/app/device markets. The fewer the players, the more effect a single decision like this will have.

Fastflyer

This is all BS. If anyone doesn’t like Apple’s policies and business practices they are free to start there own service with their own values. This reminds me of when some vegetarian group sued Burger King to try and force them to sell soybugers. Burger King simply responded that they were not in business to sell anything but meat and if these people wanted vegetarian food they were free to open their own restaurants and compete. Ditto for these people. If you don’t like a service just don’t use it. Every company has the right to peddle their wares as they see fit. If they err in their ways then the market will shut them down. So far, I don’t see Apple in dire straights because of this issue. It seems everybody knows how to run Apple’s business better than Apple. Laughable.

John Martellaro

Daniel: There is that element of Victorianism in America compared to Europe. And I agree that simple nudity is not always porn.  However, there’s a subtle point here.  One can have a fine appreciation for the human body, not be a pervert, and still be manipulated by certain kinds of imagery for the financial gain of others.

Lancashire-Witch

Over 25 years ago when I worked in England for a large multi-national corporation our visitors from the US were always amazed at the large glossy calendars that adorned many an office wall.  The chief often had to placate our visitors by saying that standards of decency varied from country to country - and what was acceptable in one country might not be acceptable in another, even within the same company.  Furthermore, there was no legal definition of decency - so our US colleagues should not even think about these things in legal terms.

It seems to me that since Apple operates its on-line stores along national lines then maybe it should apply standards that are generally accepted for each country. Thus a newspaper app that shows topless models may well be allowed in the Danish app store but not the US one.

It’s no surprise to me that enforcing a US set of standards globally irritates some companies and consumers in other countries, who in some cases might view the whole thing as rather puritanical. 

As always, I could be wrong.

mlvezie

Daniel,

It’s not John’s definition, it’s Apple’s.  And Apple’s reason, I think, is that they have to draw the line somewhere. You may not agree with their line, but it’s theirs to draw.

I’m not convinced that creating an adult App Store will solve the problem. The adult store will have only a subset of the customers that the main app store will have. And anyone who finds their app there will probably (unless their app is blatantly pornographic) find cause to complain. For example, I think this Danish publisher would object to his app being on the adult store.

Michael

vasic

I agree with mrmgraphics. The only way Apple would consider making changes would be if current set of rules were to seriously hurt the success of the platform.

As for the Danish magazine, toplessness in EU and Victorianism, it seems to me that Apple is making choices using lowest (or shall we say, highest) common moral denominator, keeping in mind that very large portion of their customer base is in the US, and consequently, those Victorian values of the US will likely override any more progressive (should I say liberal) values of EU or other parts of the world.

As the world has become a global market, I don’t see Apple putting up walls between countries, in order to allow for less conservative moral values, just so that they can sell a few thousand more apps, and/or placate a small number of vocal complainers. I don’t think I’m too happy about such a decision, but it is exclusively Apple’s to make.

John Martellaro

Lancashire-Witch: You are not wrong.  You’re exactly right. It might be that Apple would have to create adult App Stores on a per country basis. This is the kind of thing that Apple isn’t very good at, in my experience. It’s a big challenge, one that Apple would like to avoid.  But big, powerful, rich, successful companies face big problems, and hoping they can be sidestepped is a symptom of an executive team at Apple that would like the benefits of size and wealth without the associated big problems.

I could be wrong.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

John, it has nothing to do with values and everything to do with profits. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just call it what it is, and then evaluate in that context.

I was convinced of this a year ago, but I think there is tremendous objective evidence in how Apple reacted to EU threats in September. Before September, their tune was that third party tools poisoned the platform and would screw up phones and pads. And after they realized the seriousness of the threat, they changed their tune. And guess what? The third party tools are fine for making apps, just as critics had claimed in March when Steve started going batshit crazy with his War on Flash.

The censorship regime is an arbitrary business decision, nothing more. If they think they are protecting customers, they’re not, or they’re protecting them from bogeymen.

mactoid

I still maintain that Apple provides an app on EVERY iOS device that allows all kinds of images, including porn, to be accessed at will.  It’s called Safari.  If you want to check out page 3 girls or page 9 girls, then set a bookmark on your home screen and have at it.

The benefits of having Apple screen apps for functionality, lack of data mining, and content more than outweigh not having a “boobie” app.

<Ex-Palm OS survivor>

John Martellaro

Mactoid: Presumably, a malicious app on an iPhone could do more damage than a maliciously crafted Website viewed via Safari.  I’d like to hear from developers about this.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@John: Ask Ted about jailbreaking. The browser has been a very popular and reliable attack vector for rooting the iPhone.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@mactoid: For you perhaps. What would be wrong with Apple allowing side-loading of apps, much as Android does? If you want to be spoon fed curated goodness from Apple’s teat, have at it. Those that don’t can distribute and acquire their apps elsewhere. No more controversy. Problem solved. What’s wrong with that?

Nemo

With respect to the law, Apple can do what it likes in the U.S. with respect to allowing apps on the App Store, constrained only by U.S. competition law and contractual obligation.  I won’t opine about EU law, because I am not an expert in that law and not qualified to practice before the EU’s legal institutions. 

However, I think that it is unlikely that EU courts will oblige Apple to permit local apps that go as far on any of its local EU App Stores as local law and taste will permit.  Apple is company that goes for the least common denominator (LCD) on its App Store, including the local version of it, for a number of reason.  Mr. Martellaro, supra, very well explains that Apple must protect its customers from fraud and other criminal activity; avoid the objections of those who would find certain content salacious; serve educations market, where many of the ultimate users are children; comply with the law and customs of very conservative governments and populations, for, though App Stores may be local, no app is local.  If Apple failed to so protect its customers, it would be blamed and in many cases sued or even prosecuted.  Apple also wants its App Store to have a consistent universal set of standards, which couldn’t happen if Apple tried to cater to myriad tastes of all the local markets, where it operates.  Also, I think Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, just doesn’t like this stuff and, as CEO, unless this begins to hurt Apple’s sales, he will get his way. 

So, as a matter of law, Apple has sound, legally defensible reasons for its LCD approach to erotic content on the App Store, and I doubt that law, even in the EU, which, by the way, contains some very conservative countries, will compel Apple to accept apps in Denmark from Ekstra Bladet or anyone else that go to the limit of what some or even most Danes find acceptable. 

The only constraint on Mr. Jobs enforcing the App Store’s censorship of erotic content would be negative impact on Apple’s revenues.  Ekstra Bladet (EB) is trying to foment a revolt of Danes to have just such an impact on Apple’s revenues.  However, I suspect that most Danes will take the view that having to use Safari or another browser to reach EB or others’ unregulated erotic content on the Internet is sufficient access to such content and does not warrant sacrificing their beloved iOS devices, leaving EB with the option of a paid app for its erotic content or a free app that does not contain that erotic content but with reference to a URL link were its Page 9 girls and its other erotic content can be found.

However, none of the foregoing deals with Apple’s improper censorship of the Manhattan Declaration App (App). See http://manhattandeclaration.org/home.aspx.  Apple’s censorship of the civil and reasonable statement of position presented in that App is contrary to the values of any free and democratic society and to Apple’s at least moral duty to permit apps that present reasoned and civil debate on even controversial issues.  While Apple may not be in violation of any law in banning the App, its having banned the App raises the question of whether Apple has the corporate character to be the sole arbiter of what political speech is permitted on a mean of communication as pervasive and popular as the App Store.

Lancashire-Witch

As a customer in a far-off land Apple often looks very, very US centric.

Someone should remind them they have fast turned a global brand into a global company. Running a global company requires a special set of skills that stops small problems becoming big problems.

Apple has put up walls between countries, vasic.
Apple on-line stores sell a different range of products in each country. The iTunes Store is available in over 80 countries - not as one store, but all different. Different music, different movies, different apps, and so on - but one set of standards for app approvals (as far as I know - but I could be wrong).

It’s hard to believe the executives at Apple recognise that different countries have different characteristics and product requirements but not different cultural values.

daddy

My how the worm has turned.  I can recall in the late 70s an A2 program called Visifux making the rounds, something supposedly crafted in Bandley 3.  While the graphics were quite crude, the program used sound effects that were strictly noises made by the floppy drive as the read head moved from the outer ring to the inner ring, back and forth.  Then at the, uh, climax, the drive would make this buzzing sound and the program would quit.  The name was a play on Visicalc.

There was Sierra Online’s Softporn Adventure with a photo on the packaging showing a few young ladies in a hot tub.  There was an obvious retouch job (no Photoshop available!) where one of these ladies’ nipples was peeking out of the water.

At this point in time, the adolescents at Apple have grown up and have discovered that there are other things in the world.  I’m no prude and enjoy “curated” adult stuff (nude beaches, swimsuits optional pool parties, Euro resorts) because they are self-curated and inappropriate behavior simply doesn’t exist.  In this context I think Apple is taking care of things in a responsible manner.  You don’t need topless lasses to enjoy and use any of the iOS goodies.  Those who want/need it know where to find it.

mhikl

Yes, so much easier to give in than to stand up to principle. But what the hey, principles are funny old rites from the twentieth century, eh?

JonGl

Does anybody _really_ want Disney to start producing porno films? Sorry, but for me, Apple is one of those companies that has made itself as a family-friendly company (like Disney). If Apple suddenly started creating “adult” stores, then I suspect that they would lose more credibility than they would gain business. I don’t see Apple doing this—and I hope they don’t. As someone else pointed out, Safari on the iPhone, as well as other web browsers allow for those who wish to indulge their lower passions. They don’t need to get involved directly.

-Jon

Lancashire-Witch

You don?t need topless lasses to enjoy and use any of the iOS goodies.? Those who want/need it know where to find it.

Careful daddy. You’re close to implying that those who bought The Sun only did so to look at the Page 3 beauty.  I used to buy The Sun for the Business & Finance pages.

FlipFriddle

It’s amusing that a pair of boobies gets everyone so worked up, and yet prime time network tv is full of shows that depict people being brutally murdered every episode with their ruined cadavers being sliced open and examined by jokey medical examiners. Who’s “thinking of the children” there? The hypocrisy is staggering.
This is a slippery slope though, so Apple better watch it; the line between “protecting” customers and censorship is a fine one.

vasic

I don’t think Apple is denying censorship at all. I believe their position is that they will vigorously censor content in order to maintain specific level of community standards.

As far as those specific standards are concerned, that is a whole new debate and I completely agree: those standards are quite lopsided. There is absolutely no way American TV channel (broadcast or basic cable) is allowed to display a nipple (or a breast, even if nipple were blurred/pixelated), and nudity below waist is simply prohibited. Meanwhile, no community standard will ever have a problem with blood, gore, brutal violence or murder, as long as you don’t see a nipple.

For most other western nations, these standards seem very similar to those of Saudi Arabia, or Iran. This may be fine, except that for everyone coming from that western world, it is simply difficult to reconcile the two (the community standards of Saudi Arabia or Iran, with America). Especially considering that those standards do not apply when the TV network is “premium” (i.e. when the subscriber has to pay additional monthly subscription in order to gain access). HBO, Showtime, etc., can freely show nipples, breasts, as well as full frontal nudity, as long as there is no actual, graphical display of intercourse. This system of community values seems very arbitrary and inconsistent. And Apple must play within it. I don’t blame them for their decision.

zewazir

Why should Apple not have the right to censor? Who cares how “fine” the line is?  Apple is no more obligated to provide access to nudity (let alone pornography) through their stores that the American Angus Association is obligated to promote a vegetarian diet on their wed site. Choosing not to do so is not censorship - it is making a conscious choice to NOT sell, directly or indirectly, certain types of products.

There are thousands (if not millions) of book stores and magazine stands who refuse to carry magazines that show nudity.  Are they “censoring”?  Are they wrong to do “limit” their selection to what they feel is appropriate for their store?? No, they are perfectly within their rights to adjust the content selection for their own purposes.

There are 10 million ways for those seeking their little thrills by gazing at the unclothed human body. I enjoy perusing the occasional Playboy myself (and no, it’s not for the articles, though I do read them, too.) In fact the ability to view such is, quite possibly, a little (a lot?) TOO prevalent these days. I have to have content filters on Google because otherwise even the most simple of basic searches for something as innocuous as sump pumps ends up with a ton of pron links.

Under what guise of totalitarianism disguised as supporting freedom does anyone have the right to tell anyone else “You MUST provide what I want”? Especially when what is wanted is fully available in profound quantities through hundreds of other means?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Under what guise of totalitarianism disguised as supporting freedom does anyone have the right to tell anyone else ?You MUST provide what I want?? Especially when what is wanted is fully available in profound quantities through hundreds of other means?

Nobody is denying Apple its “right” to censor. They are subject to criticism and competition for choosing that route. Native apps (even on iOS alone) are a popular cultural phenomenon. They provide a level of interaction and experience that is different and some ways better than those “other means” you talk about. What Apple is doing with its user agreements and App Store (DMCA exception not-withstanding) is acting as a choke point on legitimate apps, and a rather stringent one at that. BTW, EU regulators told Apple it did not have the right to discriminate against third party tools used to build apps. Totalitarian or otherwise, that’s an interesting data point in a discussion of Apple’s “right” to censor.

But ultimately, regardless of who the real Nazis are on either side, the market makes a crude determination about these policy scheme in total. And today via Twitter, Andy Rubin let us know that: There are over 300,000 Android phones activated each day. It’s an interesting number (27M phones per quarter), because it’s about double Apple’s last official number for iPhones and up 1.5x since August. What you’re going to begin to see is that new developers like Rovio and Zynga are going to pin their mobile strategies on Android first, with iOS as an afterthought. Why? Less friction, more customers.

EDIT: Let me clear up the last sentence. Yesterday, companies like Rovio and Zynga pinned their mobile strategies to iOS. Today’s new companies that are going to make a huge difference aren’t doing that. They will at least straddle and more likely treat iOS as an afterthought, especially if they’re doing the slightest thing that might be seen as risky or controversial. Angel and VC investors are already baking the uncertainty of the App Store into their evaluations. Unless Apple changes its tune significantly, you’ll see the attitude reflected more and more in insider pubs like TechCrunch, and probably even more when these investors make public statements. The Apple vs. VCs war will heat up big in 2011.

wab95

John:

Another thoughtful piece, and I salute your courage in putting this forward.

It seems to me that since Apple operates its on-line stores along national lines then maybe it should apply standards that are generally accepted for each country

I concur with Lancashire-Witch’s comment, and the similar one that followed. Apple has become a global company, and as such, has more than one culture to address. It is not simply the US and the EU states (the West), which despite their cultural differences, are more similar to each other than either is to most many Islamic states in the East, where Apple is increasingly doing business, and where yet a very different set of public norms obtain. Unless and until Apple adopt a country-specific app store model, they will have to tread a middle ground, which, while it may end up pleasing few people, may have the virtue of offending none.

I also want to underscore your point about harm and liability, but from a different vantage point. I am always struck, whenever I return to the West from an extended stay in Asia, with how insulated this part of the world is (the US and Europe) from the horror that comprise the daily life of many of the world’s poor. Many of the women and girls (granted not all) involved in the porn industry are also involved in the sex industry, and many are the victims of trafficking, a multi-billion dollar growth industry. It is the dark underbelly many porn consumers prefer to ignore. In low income countries in Asia, it is a very real fear for many families, who have to rely on migrant work to make ends meet. CNN just did a piece on human slavery, highlighting that some of these women are in plain view in the USA. It is not just a problem in remote developing countries, and involves women from practically every country. To do business with the porn industry risks doing business, directly or indirectly, with human trafficking.

Can one imagine the global hue and cry if an app on the Apple App Store was found to have women or girls who were trafficked? Does anyone think such a finding, in today’s climate, would not adversely affect Apple? Are there not vested interests that would like nothing more than to expose such a link, if it could proved?

I do not agree, however, that Apple’s stance is all about money. Companies, including some that I work with, have been doing a lot more with ‘values’ and what values that organisation should be identified with, as part of broader branding exercises, which in turn affects image and business. I think Apple is right to steer clear of the porn business, at least until it is able to verify that its apps do not support trafficking in women and children; not unlike jewellery outlets today that avoid selling so called ‘blood diamonds’. True, image and profits are often linked, however companies are run by people, and most people prefer a principled business whose values reflect well on them, and whose output benefits others. Ideally, this is also profitable.

As mrmgraphics points out, Apple’s app store is not hurting for business without porn. I agree that, for the moment, there is very little to be gained by adding it, and more to lose if done sloppily.

Apple, for now, is a better company leaving porn to those who do it successfully, while focussing their own energies elsewhere.

Lancashire-Witch

There are thousands (if not millions) of book stores and magazine stands who refuse to carry magazines that show nudity.

I could be wrong, but I guess there isn’t a newstand in Denmark that refuses to sell Ekstra Bladet because of the picture on Page 9.

I can see why It Apple may not want the newspaper’s app in the US app store.  But to block it from the Danish app store probably seems crazy from the Danish perspective; and to suggest that the newspaper is on any thrill-seekers list will raise a smile in Denmark

As I said earlier - Apple is very US centric. What looks perfectly normal within US borders can look cranky and ridiculous in the other parts of the world.

Of course, Apple has the right to set any terms and conditions it likes for its business (within legal bounds) and no one can demand a change or exception. That doesn’t mean it makes sense.

daddy

daddy said:You don?t need topless lasses to enjoy and use any of the iOS goodies.? Those who want/need it know where to find it.
Careful daddy. You?re close to implying that those who bought The Sun only did so to look at the Page 3 beauty.? I used to buy The Sun for the Business & Finance pages.

Careful yourself!  I had just taken a gulp of coffee before reading your comment.  Now my monitor is dripping coffee!

If only the business news were as upbeat as that Page 3 girl.  Or the entire Sunday Sport.  grin

daddy

As mrmgraphics points out, Apple?s app store is not hurting for business without porn. I agree that, for the moment, there is very little to be gained by adding it, and more to lose if done sloppily.

Nice turn of expression!  grin

Not needing to quote your entire post - I totally agree with your points.

Responding to another series of posts here, I can understand how folks in other western nations can view us in the US as being similar to the Saudis.  There are so many parallels (ruled by plutocracy/ruled by House of Saud, intolerant religious fundamentalist underpinnings on both sides, treatment of minorities / treatment of women) to be drawn here.  Look at the total insanity in the media caused by Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”.  And that occurred during a broadcast of a sport that annually sends tens of players to the ER with head-neck-spinal injuries.  The players are forgotten but JJ’s breast will live in infamy forever.  (FWIW:  it wasn’t even a cute nipple.)

zewazir

I could be wrong, but I guess there isn?t a newstand in Denmark that refuses to sell Ekstra Bladet because of the picture on Page 9.

I can see why It Apple may not want the newspaper?s app in the US app store.  But to block it from the Danish app store probably seems crazy from the Danish perspective; and to suggest that the newspaper is on any thrill-seekers list will raise a smile in Denmark

You missed the point.  The point is if a book store or news stand - and it does not matter where it is located - does not wish to carry items that contain nudity, accusing them of “censorship” smacks of an attitude entitlement, that just being a retail business requires they carry whatever a vocal group wants them to carry, and not doing so is somehow infringement on their rights.  That is not the case. Just because Danes (as does much of Europe) have a more casual attitude toward nudity than much of the U.S. in no way means a U.S. company is obligated to cater to those cultural differences.

Frankly it is refreshing to see a company stand by it’s standards, as opposed to the current trend of anything for a buck.

Lancashire-Witch

@ zewazir.

I haven’t accused Apple of censorship…..or infringing Danish rights.  In my previous post I say Apple can do what they like and they are only obligated to operate within the law. Personally, I don’t have a problem with not having nudes on my iPhone.

Apple is now a global company; even though you refer to it as a U.S. company. And that’s the nub of this issue.  If Apple didn’t operate in Denmark then this would not be a story.
But Apple does choose to operate in Denmark but under its US-based principles not Danish ones, and I guess the Danes think that’s puritanical, at best- because the newspaper is (probably) freely available throughout Denmark.

I agree - Apple is not obligated in any way to cater for cultural differences - but if it doesn’t then similar stories will surface in the future - some potentially more serious than others.

Perhaps John is right - Apple would prefer to avoid the challenges that becoming a large, successful, global company brings. Right now, one rule for all sounds great in Cupertino. But I think they will rise to the challenges as more and more of their profits are generated by non-USA operations.

JonGl

Apple is now a global company; even though you refer to it as a U.S. company. And that?s the nub of this issue.  If Apple didn?t operate in Denmark then this would not be a story.

Of course, there is great irony in this dilemma. Let’s take this out of the realm of morality and decency, and into the simple realm of business with another example. Nokia…

Nokia is a distinctly Finnish company. It is obvious that they understand the European market, and have owned it for years. However, it is also obvious that they have _not_ understood the American market, and have never gained the foothold there, or the mindshare there that they have in Europe. Yes, they are a global company, but that doesn’t change the fact that they still operate from within the mindset of their roots—Finland. Yes, it does have an impact on their sales and their bottom line, but they can no more change _who_ they are than a leopard can change his spots.

We need to understand Apple in the same way. Yes, the situation is different, but the bottom line is where it will show, as to whether or not Apple’s “American-ness” is a hindrance in the Danish/Scandinavian market, or European market as a whole. It may be that Apple’s “prudishness” may hinder their sales in Europe—or it may not. It’s honestly too soon to know, but I somehow doubt that Apple will be willing to change in this regard (see my comments above re: Disney and porn—Apple would rather be the Disney of the computer world than the Playboy).

-Jon

zewazir

Apple is now a global company; even though you refer to it as a U.S. company. And that?s the nub of this issue.  If Apple didn?t operate in Denmark then this would not be a story.
But Apple does choose to operate in Denmark but under its US-based principles not Danish ones, and I guess the Danes think that?s puritanical, at best- because the newspaper is (probably) freely available throughout Denmark.

Actually there is no indication what Danes in general think. The folks who publish Ekstra Bladet are, quite obviously, up in arms because Apple turned down their iOS app. If they were not a media source themselves, it is doubtful there would be a much of story. The whole thing has less to do with a difference between U.S. and Danish culture than it does with a few people who are, themselves, too culturally centric to understand that their app would be available in a manner than could cause Apple big headaches.

Danish views of nudity are no more or less correct than any other culture. But what seems to be is the publishers of Ekstra Bladet are demanding that Apple conduct their business according to Danish culture, while disparaging U.S. culture, Arabic culture, etc, etc, (all those nations of prudes, ya know) in a global market that includes far more than just Danes.

Daniel

Danish views of nudity are no more or less correct than any other culture. But what seems to be is the publishers of Ekstra Bladet are demanding that Apple conduct their business according to Danish culture, while disparaging U.S. culture, Arabic culture, etc, etc, (all those nations of prudes, ya know) in a global market that includes far more than just Danes.

You are aware that there are different iTunes stores in different countries, right? To refuse an app that could be made available in Denmark because it may offend people in markets where the app would not even be available does not sound like a compelling argument.

The question here is not whether Apple has the right to do what they are doing; rather, it is whether it is smart for Apple to follow this course of action. Long-term, I fear that Apple’s policy may turn away developers which in turn will drive more and more consumers to Android. Ask yourself if the Mac would have survived if every application ever written for it had to have been approved by Apple! Or do you think the iPod would have been the planetary success it was if Apple had to approve every piece of music that can be played on it?

Right now, iPhones and iPads still benefit from having been the first devices of their type out there, but success that’s build on such a flimsy basis is likely to be fleeting, indeed.

As a consumer, I want to decide what application runs on devices I purchase, and I want multiple places to get my software from. RIght now, the iPhone is still my choice because it has the most attractive bundle, but Android is catching up fast, and it’s not obvious that in another year, when I’m up to replace my iPhone, there won’t be an Android-based device that will be more appealing to me. It would not be the first time in their history that Apple blew a market-leading position.

Daniel

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