Apple's worked very hard cultivating its walled garden and it isn't going to let a bunch of creators ruin its pristine utopia with nudity, depictions of sweatshops, nudity (again), swearing, topical commentary, competitive apps and the ancient art of intricate lovemaking.
Once again, Apple has decided to arbitrarily boot more content out of its garden, expressing its concern that things might be getting a little too sexy for its apparent target audience of schoolchildren who have never browsed the internet.
Reports are coming in that the digital comics distributor Izneo has had to radically prune their catalog or face banishment from iTunes.
Izneo has been selling digital comics on the iPad since they released an iPad app in mid-2010, and they successfully built a catalog of over 4000 French and Belgian titles.
Everything was going fine until late Friday night when one of Apple’s censors noticed that Izneo sold adult comics. And since Apple clearly cannot allow their precious iPad to be sullied by salacious content, the censor gave Izneo 30 hours to remove all adult comics.
Like other Apple takedown requests, this one arrived with no warning and no clear indication as to what content Apple felt was inappropriate and should be removed.
IDBoox broke the story earlier today, and they report that Izneo had absolutely no warning that there was a problem or guidance as to which titles needed to be removed. All they were reportedly told by Apple was that the adult content had to go, so Izneo drastically pruned any comic that showed a breast, cleavage, and even ones with characters evoking a suggestive gesture.
In order to comply with this incredibly vague request, Izneo immediately pulled 2,800 of its 4,000 titles. After a more in-depth review of its content, Izneo restored about half of what it had dumped, bringing it back up to 2,500. That's still 1,500 titles pulled because Apple said, "Jump," and couldn't even be bothered to specify how high.
Now, Izneo is stuck in a bit of a bind. It can abide by Apple's ethereal "guidelines" and hope that it doesn't need to remove even more titles. Or, it can start looking at a few options to get around the walled garden while still remaining somewhat ensconced. Nate Hoffelder
suggests it switch to an HTML-5 reading app, or better yet, simply stop selling titles from within the app. This will allow Izneo to avoid Apple's app censoring while also bypassing the "opportunity" to toss 30% of the in-app purchase Apple's way.
As long as Apple is going to continue to behave like a stern parent in need of mood stabilizers, app developers and content creators are going to find themselves on the receiving end of vague missives like these. Apple is, of course, welcome to run its business however it sees fit, but every story like this serves as a warning to developers: if you want to play in Apple's garden, you'll have to abide by the nebulous, arbitrary rules. Apple has stated that if game developers want to handle serious issues (like the Syrian War), they should write a book instead
. What is it going to tell comic book creators whose artwork veers into adult areas? Fire up the keyboard and turn those pictures into 1,000 words?