from the seriously,-what-the-hell-is-going-on-over-there dept
Just as online content only begins to get some recognition as being Pulitzer worthy, it looks like those content creators still have a major hurdle to overcome: namely, Apple's incredibly screwed up application approval process. Cartoonist Mark Fiore made Internet and journalism history this week as the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer prize for his work over at the San Francisco Chronicle. Much more difficult? Getting his iPhone cartoon application past Apple's application store guardians. Fiore says his application was rejected last December because, as an Apple letter phrased it, his satirical cartoons "ridicule public figures," a violation of Apple's iPhone Developer Program License Agreement:
"Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory. Examples of such content have been attached for your reference."
Except the attached examples provided by Apple weren't offensive in any way, and included such radical and supposedly-offensive things like caricatures of the couple that recently crashed a White House dinner. Of course, this is only the latest in a long list of bizarre and seemingly arbitrary Apple decisions that have kept developers from getting their wares to the application store. Luckily for Fiore, his plight resulted in some negative press for Apple, and by the end of Thursday, Apple had personally called him to say his application had miraculously and suddenly made the grade. As usual, Apple wouldn't officially comment about how or why they had screwed up.
You'd like to think that this would be good news for other platforms, given that developers would eventually get tired of dealing with Apple's bizarre inconsistencies and turn their efforts elsewhere. But this never really happens, given that Apple's application store remains the best place to gain exposure and make money -- and the inconsistent approval process means many developers are never impacted. It also seems likely that the walls surrounding newer application stores (like Verizon's) could wind up being even worse. Still the problem remains and, obviously, people wonder if Fiore would have had his rejection reversed if he wasn't in the media spotlight for his Pulitzer win.
Meanwhile, Dan Gillmor and outlets like the Columbia Journalism Review think it's time for journalists to start "pushing back against Apple" and asking some hard questions. Gillmor's general concern is whether news outlets risk having their applications rejected should they criticize Apple (though that would seemingly indicate consistency, something Apple's apparently not good at) -- and more specifically what happens when a paper like the New York Times enters such a tight iPad business arrangement with a company they cover frequently. Surely most people in the press will get right on asking Apple those kinds of hard questions -- right after they stop collectively gushing and cooing over the iPad for hits.