Apple's Arbitrary Rejects Hit Nine Inch Nails App

from the bizarre dept

We’ve covered plenty of examples of Apple’s rather arbitrary decision/approval process for putting apps in the iPhone App Store — demonstrating a huge opportunity for other phone providers to be more open and less ridiculous. We’ve also talked plenty about Trent Reznor and how Nine Inch Nails is doing all sorts of unique things to connect with fans — including a fantastically well thought out iPhone app that got lots of well-deserved attention.

However, those two things clashed this weekend, when Apple suddenly rejected the latest version of the iPhone app for very murky reasons:

We’ve reviewed nin: access and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store at this time because it contains objectionable content which is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

“Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

The objectionable content referenced in this email is “The Downward Spiral”. Since the app is live on the App store, please make the necessary changes to the application as soon as possible, and resubmit your binary to iTunes Connect. Thank you

Except… it’s not at all clear what the actual problem is. As Reznor notes, the album “The Downward Spiral” (one of NIN’s most popular albums) is not available on the app itself, though the song “The Downward Spiral” is apparently found somewhere in a podcast that can be streamed from the app. But, as Reznor later points out, the same song can be easily bought on iTunes, so it’s difficult to see what possible objection Apple could have.

I’ll voice the same issue I had with Wal-Mart years ago, which is a matter of consistency and hypocrisy. Wal-Mart went on a rampage years ago insisting all music they carry be censored of all profanity and “clean” versions be made for them to carry. Bands (including Nirvana) tripped over themselves editing out words, changing album art, etc to meet Wal-Mart’s standards of decency – because Wal-Mart sells a lot of records. NIN refused, and you’ll notice a pretty empty NIN section at any Wal-Mart. My reasoning was this: I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any “indecent” material for sale – but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film “Scarface” completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense?

You can buy The Downward Fucking Spiral on iTunes, but you can’t allow an iPhone app that may have a song with a bad word somewhere in it. Geez, what if someone in the forum in our app says FUCK or CUNT? I suppose that also falls into indecent material. Hey Apple, I just got some SPAM about fucking hot asian teens THROUGH YOUR MAIL PROGRAM. I just saw two guys having explicit anal sex right there in Safari! On my iPhone!

Come on Apple, think your policies through and for fuck’s sake get your app approval scenario together.

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Comments on “Apple's Arbitrary Rejects Hit Nine Inch Nails App”

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R. Miles says:

I was going to send this in...

… but left it alone, figuring 10,000 others would do it instead.

When the hell will people quit bitching about Apple’s business actions and find other sources which don’t restrict creativity?

Idiotic hypocrisy.

Trent, before you support this company via another Apple product purchase, maybe this will get you to stop and ask yourself if you really want to bed yourself with this company.

Especially since they’ve agreed to screw over customers with the new $1.30 song price.

Go whine elsewhere, please. Stick to your innovations in connecting with fans and forget this company as a source.

But I do agree about your comment regarding WinMo.

TheStuipdOne says:

Re: I was going to send this in...

There are over 10,000,000 iPhones and iPod Touches in the hands of people who are more likely to be music fans and more likely to have money to spend. It would be stupid to ignore them. So as arbitrary as their decisions are, and as evil as they are alleged to be they can’t be ignored by people like Reznor

R. Miles says:

Re: Re: I was going to send this in...

and as evil as they are alleged to be they can’t be ignored by people like Reznor
Yes, they can. It’s called a boycott, and if people like Trent quit whining about instead of doing something about it, things usually change.

But given the incredibly small distribution windows available to artists and consumers, you do drive a good point.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: I was going to send this in...

When the hell will people quit bitching about Apple’s business actions and find other sources which don’t restrict creativity?

I believe he answers that question (and you even reference to it!)

FTA: “Android is cool, but nobody has an Android phone. Blackberry is OK but the hardware is inconsistent and WinMo straight-up sucks balls. If Apple doesn’t get it together, we will most certainly make it available to the jailbreak community. I didn’t invest in this app to see it languish on the sidelines from an idiotic policy while this tour is in full swing.”

I just wish I liked his music more.

JGM says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I was going to send this in...

“Yes, but wouldn’t some consistency in the enforcement of that agreement be nice?”

I suspect Apple’s agreement explicitly states that the criteria for inclusion can change at any time and for any reason. Apple is essentially the syndicator here; they can decide what they want to put on their “airwaves” for any reason at all, up to and including individual tastes.

Reznor’s argument does not go to consitency in any case — the comparisons with what you can buy in a store, or what you can get via a browser, are spurious and whiney: “waah waah let my app in or I’ll say bad words!”

weneedhelp (user link) says:

Apple are the uber communists of the PC world. I cant put any app I want on the hardware I PURCHASED? F you apple. Over-priced PC hardware anyway. 2500 for a single quad core Xeon(2.6) processor with 3 gig of RAM, 640 GB HDD, and GeForce GT 120. Go blow. I can build the same PC for 1100 and run Linux for free.Oh yeah and the 349 warranty known as apple care. I have done enough of these warranty repairs to know they will try to use any excuse not to fix your machine. Non standard apple memory? It goes into a bag and your Apple gets sent back. Non standard memory caused issue. You fire up the machine and the problem still exists.
Apple users:
Bend over, smile, and smoke a cigarette cuz you just got f’ed.

minijedimaster says:

Re: Re: Re:

some of us like the reliability of OSX over Vist XP or Linux. Cant afford a Mac? go get a job!

I have a job, can afford a Mac and choose not too. My Windoze PC runs just as if not more so reliable than your Mac. Of course that’s what I do for a living and I don’t destroy my system everyday like most moronic Mac users would do to a PC. Cause lets face it, all Mac really does is dumb it down for the lowest common denominator so they can’t break it. ie… very little hardware support, very small amount of software/games support etc.

Eitherway, I’d never pay the Apple hardware tax, if I really wanted to run OS X (which I don’t) I’d just get an EFi-X device and use it on the same hardware that Mac’s use but for 1/4 the price.

weneedhelp (user link) says:

Re: Re: I can build the same PC for blah blah blah

“same argument new day”
No DB, the argument used to be 64bit, SCSI blah blah. Which they were correct, in the past the hardware was better. Now you pay much more and get much less. FACE IT. Apple users are being ripped off.OSX is ok. I support MAC’s everyday, I have a MacBookPro, and it is damn nice hardware, BUT I PAID A PREMIUM FOR PC HARDWARE WITH AN APPLE LOGO. Dont kid yourself, MACS crash. I have a bunch of kernel panic pics to prove it. AC it appears you are just a punk.

“reliability of OSX” OVER LINUX? BLAHHHHH! you are a complete useless tool.

Vista is a beautiful OS PERIOD.Been running it since RC1 and love it. Dont cry because your hardware is outdated.
A+, NET+, MCSE, MCSA, Altiris NS/DS/SVS, ARD, VMWare Server ESX/GSX, Symantec Endpoint Protection Server.

What? Whats that AC? No thanks I do not want fries with that.

weneedhelp (user link) says:

Re: AC=Troll

No DB, you send…say an HP in for depot repair they dont really care what memory is in it. The problem WILL be fixed. Same with IBM/Dell. They may pull the memory and flag it, but they will fix the problem. I am Dell/HP/Apple certified ( cant tell you how many MAC books were returned without being repaired and the mem module was taped to the lid. You are out of your league here GO AWAY.It appears you argue for the sake of arguing. Troll.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“LMAO, that says everything one needs to know about your typical Apple fanboy.”

how does laughing your @ss off say everything one needs to know about your typical Apple fanboy. if laughing is your response, you may want to lower the dosage of your medication, that should help

Aaron Martin-Colby (profile) says:

Bragging Rights

I think Microsoft should brag about this.

They’ve been receiving a lot of crap, especially from Apple-fans. But suddenly, Apple leaves the confines of their design/program/manufacture/control business model and they fall flat on their face.

Microsoft has been dealing with this stuff for years and the Windows market, say what you will about quality, is LEAGUES more varied and vibrant than the Apple market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bragging Rights

“Microsoft has been dealing with this stuff for years and the Windows market, say what you will about quality, is LEAGUES more varied and vibrant than the Apple market.”

I have thought for years they should do a spoof of the original apple 1984 adds (the irony of it is just soo easy)

Crash (profile) says:

Apple hasn't changed

Apple has done this since it started. They want to control your computing experience and not allow you any flexibility to choose what you want to do with the hardware you purchase. Microsoft won control of the desktop because Apple made the same mistakes in the 80’s as they are now. Apple will never be able to beat Microsoft because they will not change their philosophy of restricting user choice. As soon as a phone comes out that gives me the same functionality as the Iphone along with more choices I will switch to it in a heartbeat. For now the iphone is worth the hassle of dealing with Apple, one day that will change.

mark Rosedale (profile) says:

His response

Reading the response makes me happy. That is so good and so true. Since flash isn’t enabled on the iPhone it might be hard to get at some objectionable content, but who is Apple to say what I may or may not find objectionable. I think the best solution to this whole ordeal is to allow a parental control or something. That way Apple can filter at the parents request and the rest of us don’t need to be mothered.

Crash (profile) says:

Re: Re:

its funny how all the apple haters come out to complain about something not related to the article. no one is asking you to buy a mac. dont like the application approval process … dont submit an application. There, issue resolved, have a nice day

How is talking about the way Apple does business unrelated to an article about Apple erroneously rejecting an iphone app?

Jason says:

Apple are quite right. If you download a song with specific words in the title, the chances are that these will appear in the song. If you download a game, is it the downloadees responsibility to check through each of the songs to avoid any offensive content. I do feel that there is a happy medium to be struck and on these occasions a disclaimer or warning advising of the content of the application so as to ensure that those downloading are fully aware of what they download.

Jose_X (profile) says:


NIN should start investing in a Linux distro if they haven’t. In a year or two, they could provide their fans one mean NINX. Why settle for an app when you can control the whole shebang?

Fans wouldn’t all download the distro (eg, LiveCD) and run it, but many would look at it and start talking about it. NINX could be one of the first music groups to tap into the future. In five years they would have a personal distribution channel to their fans plus have extra appeal and market share for being one of the first.

Call you own shots. Help your fans stand out.

Do you NINX?

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