Windows Phone Marketplace says no to ‘racy’ apps (swimsuits OK)

my first impressions of windows phone 7 5 mango fpIn an effort to maintain control of its Windows Phone Marketplace app store, Microsoft has reiterated its rules for submitted apps.

In a post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog this week, the company’s senior director for Windows Marketplace, Todd Brix, outlined the steps being taken “to keep the quality bar high.”

The four issues highlighted in the post included Microsoft’s wish to keep from its store apps it considers to be too “racy.”

“We’re committed to offering a diverse selection of safe and quality apps that appeal to a wide range of customer interests,” Brix wrote. 

While the mobile store doesn’t allow apps which are “sexually suggestive or provocative,” Brix says it does permit “the kind of content you occasionally see on prime-time TV or the pages of a magazine’s swimsuit issue.”

He added that he wished to see more “subtle and modest” imagery and titles used for app icons.

“Apps that don’t fit our standard will need to be updated to remain in the store,” Brix warned developers. He wrote that makers of apps that contravene the company’s guidelines will be contacted and asked to make changes rather than simply being pulled from the store without notification.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president of consumer devices at Gartner, told the BBC that Apple has operated a strict policy on such apps ever since its iOS store first opened for business.

“Now Microsoft is aligning itself with it, which I think is the right step to do,” she said, adding “By contrast Android does not implement a vetting system before apps go live — so from a consumer perspective parents need to be aware that their system is not as regulated.”

Brix also advised developers to refrain from using trademarks in the names of apps or app companies, and in app logos too — you might think that’d be obvious but Brix said in his post that sometimes his team receives complaints from large, well-known brands, as well as from new brands. He urges developers to do “a little homework” before submitting their work to the store.

The post warns developers against submitting the same app to multiple Marketplace categories, behavior which goes on but violates the store’s policies. Besides making it easier for customers to search the store, it also ensures an even playing field for app developers hoping to have their work discovered, Brix said. He added that if multiple, similar apps are submitted, they should have unique icons where the branding isn’t overly dominant, helping potential customers to easily distinguish between offerings.

Finally, Brix said that from this week the Marketplace was enforcing a five-keywords-only policy for submitted apps. “Any app that exceeds this number will have all its keywords deleted,” Brix said, though again, developers will be notified so they can add five new keywords. Irrelevant keywords will also be deleted.

Windows Phone Marketplace launched in late 2010 together with the Windows Phone 7 smartphone OS. The store currently contains just over 80,000 apps, with around 340 being added daily. This number is of course small in comparison to figures for the Android and iOS stores, though it means it’s a good time for Microsoft to clarify the ground rules.