The line begins to blur

Which line? The line between acceptability and unacceptability, as determined by whoever the hell determines these things at Apple’s iPhone Apps Store:

Apple has apparently rejected an update to Nine Inch Nails’ iPhone app because it found the contents of The Downward Spiral to be “objectionable,” according to Nine Inch Nails’ frontman Trent Reznor. History repeats itself.

But what’s odd here — and what continues to be odd about the App Store approval process — is that the first version of the Nine Inch Nails app was already accepted into the store a few weeks ago. In fact, I have it. Guess what’s on it? Content from The Downward Spiral. I’m listening to “Closer” right now. Let me assure everyone, this is not the radio edit version of the song or the album. So what gives, Apple?

“Like an animal,” mutters Reznor. And apparently this situation is hardly unique:

We’ve seen dozens of apps that are approved the first time, but later rejected for a seemingly small update. And we’ve seen others that are rejected, make almost no change, yet get in the next time they’re submitted. It would seem the life or death of an app is entirely in the hands of the App Store inspector who checks it out. Sometimes they catch things that they don’t want in the App Store, sometimes they do (baby shaking app anyone?). But I’m really not convinced that it’s not just a personal decision on those people’s behalf which apps get through and which don’t. I’ve seen way too much evidence telling me that is exactly what happens.

If you’re thinking, “Well, this doesn’t affect me, I don’t have an iPhone,” you might want to contemplate whether the same seemingly-arbitrary kind of decision-making might impact on some other aspect of your life. We already have inscrutable movie ratings; the House has passed a measure which further expands the nebulous concept of “hate crimes.” I can’t speak for the rest of you, but if I have to deal with a gatekeeper, I believe I have the right to be shown the key.


  1. Mister Snitch! »

    4 May 2009 · 11:52 am

    “if I have to deal with a gatekeeper, I believe I have the right to be shown the key.”

    But as a blog owner, you are a gatekeeper as well. The only difference is the App Store is a zillion times bigger. Really, aside from scale, it’s the same deal.

    Take this comment, for example. It contains a shameless link to a [possibly] funny post. Should that be allowed, especially from someone who hasn’t been around here in ages? Glad it’s not MY call.

  2. CGHill »

    8 May 2009 · 10:54 am

    Well, the App Store apparently is amenable to outside influences: Apple has gone back and approved the NIN app.

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