Apple‘s iTunes App Store’s policies for rejecting and accepting applications have always been mysterious and arbitrary: the only sure thing seems to be that Apple doesn’t care for applications that replace some of the iPhone’s core functionality, whether that be an email program, a Web browser, or calling features. Apple has also famously disallowed applications that merely provide access to potentially-objectionable content over the Internet—even when that content is readily available to the built-in Safari browser. Now Apple seems to be adding a new element of guesswork to whether an app will be allowed for sale: reports have Apple removing apps with “overtly sexual” content.
Some industry watchers speculate the move is intended to sanitize the upper echelons of the top-selling applications list, removing prurient and potentially offensive entries from highly trafficked lists. In a letter to one application developer who’s app was removed from the App Store, Apple reportedly said it had received numerous complaints about the app and its content.
The App Store does support age ratings for applications, enabling developers and publishers to specify applications as being suitable for customers 17 or more years of age. iTunes users can use filters to prevent minors from seeing and purchasing those applications.
Adult-oriented iPhone applications have historically proven rather popular, with several having appeared regularly on top-selling iPhone applications lists.
As usual, Apple has not published its requirements for accepting applications for the App Store; publicly, the company has only said that it frequently re-evaluates its in-house definitions of what is appropriate for the App Store.