Controversy never ends when it comes to Apple's never-ending quest to keep its iPhone application store free of anything controversial. (Irony much?)
Today's installment finds Mark Fiore - recent winner of a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning -- having a hard time transferring his work to the iPhone world.
Mark Fiore, who won the prize for animations that ran on SFGate.com, submitted an iPhone app to Apple last year and received an email informing him that his application had been denied, according to a post by Laura McGann at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab. In an email that Mr. Fiore said was from Apple, the company wrote that the app was being rejected because it "contains content that ridicules public figures." According to the email, the app was in violation of a clause in the iPhone developer agreement that allows Apple to reject materials that it believes may be found "objectionable."
But a representative from Apple called the cartoonist Thursday and suggested that he resubmit the app, Mr. Fiore said in an interview. "I feel kind of guilty," he said. "I'm getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer."
I suppose it's safe to assume that Fiore's second attempt will be met with less resistance, but the initial rejection was enough to get the chattering masses chattering, not only about the specific ludicrousness of banning a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist, but also the potential impact Apple's standards might have on the iPad.
Fiore's rejection may be especially disconcerting to news and media organizations, many of which are betting heavily on iPad apps as a way to get users to pay to read magazines and newspapers, and to get advertisers to pay print-ad prices for online content. (Online ads cost a small percentage of what ads in glossy magazines cost, in no small part because the net has almost infinite advertising space.)
Apple has built a little slab of Disneyland with its iPad, which is meant to be an experience unsullied by provocative or crude material. It's beautiful and enticing - the company has already sold more than a half million of them in the first two weeks it's been available - but it's not the real world.
No, the real world is a messy place, and Apple's going to have to come to grips with that fact sooner or later.
Ian Paul at PCWorld chimes in:
The problem with rejecting applications like Freedom Time and Fiore's NewsToons application is it appears to reinforce one of the biggest concerns about Apple's strict control over iPhone and iPad downloadable content. Namely ... that Apple may end up having too much control over the distribution and publication of controversial digital content as the popularity of Apple's iDevice lineup increases.
Meanwhile, publishers in Israel may have no such iPad concerns, at least in the short term, because the government there has banned the devices.
(Update, April 21: As expected, Apple reverses decision and approves Fiore's app.)
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