So with this whole thing where Apple has removed and banned like 5,000 “sexy apps” from the App Store, I think I’ve figured out the reason why, including why they’re granting exceptions to established names like Sports Illustrated, Playboy, and Victoria’s Secret. It’s about branding.
Gruber goes on to clarify what he means (and doesn’t mean), and as always you should read the piece beyond the thesis. Here’s my take on the same issue: it’s about generated content.
Apple hates it. They do not want it anywhere near their properties. They will not put a widget of latest @apple tweets on their website, they will not feature MobileMe users’ blogs and galleries, and they will not stream a keynote as it happens. Apple is about managed, directed, carefully planned experiences. And as Michael Lopp says, “it’s not secrecy; it’s theater.”
The most popular section of The App Store is the Top 25, and other Top Lists. These are based on user downloads; if you squint, you can see the SQL queries that generate them. Unless Apple significantly betrays what the word “Top” means in this context, they’re powerless to stop the influx of crass, experience-cheapening apps into these invaluable portals.
And I bet that bugs them. A lot. These days, when Apple’s aesthetically-minded, Disney-friendly thinkers visit their shiny new playground, they see a whole lot of dead grass, rusted swings, sharps and used condoms. They’re acting as impulsively as they are because it drives them crazy.
Of course, the iTunes Music and Movies and TV Shows and Podcasts Store has this same top-list problem - except it’s not a problem at all. Old media are already heavily regulated (both legally and self-). People are used to seeing risque posters for risque comedies; Steve Jobs can play Green Day at a press event because Green Day have already been radio-approved.
But apps aren’t like this; they’re a whole new Wild West. And so Apple is now in the awkward position of playing Walmart, MPAA, RIAA, and the US government at the same time. They can, of course, decide not to play that game at all, and instead allow all apps on all iPhones. The App Store could be reduced to just the Featured tab. This would make it more like the Downloads section of apple.com.
That sounds great, until you think about when the last time was that you visited Apple Downloads. And I don’t think this has to do with that 30% cut and Apple wanting to ensure that they keep making it on all apps forever. What sounds likelier to me is that they want to ensure the super-convenient experience of installing an app using the App Store; love it or hate it, it has made it so that everyone knows where and how you “get apps.”
And it enrages Apple that this experience is now tarnished with boobs.