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Opinion: iPhone Butts Drive Me Nuts

Opinion: iPhone Butts Drive Me Nuts Exclusive

February 26, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

February 26, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

[Is Apple's stringent governance of its "explicit" apps unforgivable censorship, or an overreaction to a legitimate problem? Editor Danny Cowan of iPhone-focused sister site FingerGaming checks out all of the "boobs and butts" on offer in the App Store and suggests that maybe it's good riddance to many of the apps the company pulled.]

Every day, I spend a few minutes catching up with the newest applications released for the iPhone and iPod Touch, at the occasional expense of my sanity.

My daily process usually involves glazing over dozens of bland match-three puzzlers, checking out a few titles that sound halfway decent, and then " at least once a day " finding something that makes me stop and stare in slack-jawed disbelief. I may frown. I might also put my hands over my face and mutter something like “Why?”

Once, it was an app simply titled “Amazing Butts.”

“Amazing Butts features a slideshow and wallpaper of hot bottoms in a variety of outfits and poses,” its description reads.

That’s all it is. It’s a slideshow. Of butts. Don’t think that there was any sort of thought or effort put into this thing " Amazing Butts contains only a handful of non-nude, butt-centric images taken from the Internet. And it’s priced at 99 cents.

Amazing Butts’ developer has contributed over 100 applications to Apple’s crowded app catalog. The company’s lineup includes enduring classics like Amazing Redheads, Alluring Asians, Brunette Beauties, and the anticipated sequel Awesome Butts.

And Amazing Butts is not alone. Thousands of similar apps offering the exact same functionality and purpose have been submitted to the App Store, with dozens more flooding in daily over the past several months.

Thanks to Apple’s recent decision to remove all sexually suggestive content from the App Store, however, Amazing Butts is no more. If Apple has its way, you’ll never see another butt or boob in any iPhone application ever again.

But is this really such a bad thing?

According to application aggregate site AppShopper, Apple recently deleted over 5,000 apps that are exactly like Amazing Butts. After browsing the App Store’s latest updates daily for over a year, I can assure you that the majority of these deleted applications were simple slideshows of non-nude pinup images stolen from the Internet. These apps commonly fit into the “Entertainment” category.

Occasionally, a developer will get the bright idea to take a barely-clothed bottom and turn it into a sliding puzzle, so that it can sneak into the “Games” category. Gambling themes are also popular. Poker, blackjack, roulette " everything’s better with boobs and butts.

These games aren’t good for anyone. They take minimal effort to develop, contain no original content, and make an already crowded app catalog much more difficult to navigate.

Ultimately, they drag down the value of every application in the iTunes App Store. If some guy can charge 99 cents for a “game” featuring stolen butt and boob pictures from the Internet, what does that say about a brilliant indie offering available at the same price?

I will not miss Amazing Butts or its thousands of clones. Unfortunately, though, Apple’s zeal to enforce its new policy " which targets everything from bikinis to innuendo to suggestive silhouettes " has resulted in the deletion of many legitimate games and apps.

Smule’s parody action game Attack of the Zombie Bikini Babes from Outer Space was cut. So was Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet " a twin-stick shooter that featured no nudity and only trace amounts of sexually suggestive content.

In the case of Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet, all it took was a quick appeal on the part of developer IUGO to set things right again. The original game reappeared in the App Store a day after its deletion, unmodified. Apple currently honors the title in two different categories on the front page of the App Store, in what seems to be an implied apology.

Other developers haven’t been as lucky. Apps with more blatant instances of exposed flesh are required to resubmit to Apple following a content cleansing. This is unfortunate " Apple’s content guidelines were notoriously strict to begin with, and these new rules greatly limit the creative potential of App Store developers.

There needs to be a middle ground. Sex sells. Sex is great. Most people like sex, a lot. By all means, developers should have a right to feature exposed flesh as their games dictate.

At the same time, the existence of thousands of identical slideshow apps was insulting for everyone. Apple received a number of complaints about them, then sought to keep its customers happy in a way that many would consider an overreaction.

With any luck, Apple will recognize that sex has its place in games, and will relax its new content standards. Cult of Mac reports that Apple is considering an “explicit” category for submitted apps, presumably to serve as a content filter for adult-oriented content. Hopefully, this will resolve customer complaints, and restore the creative freedom that developers lost this week.

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