Apple: the iPhone walled garden is to keep porn out

The new version of the iPhone operating system was announced today, bringing multitasking to the latest model of the handset and, later this year, to the iPad. One particular moment from the question-and-answer session stood out, quoted here from Gizmodo:
Q: Are there any plans for you to run unsigned applications, like on Android?
A: There is a porn store for Android to go to. You can download them, your kids can download them. That's a place we don't want to go. We're not going to go there.
It reads like an easy answer, to avoid explaining competitive objectives that some may find disconcerting. Bear in mind, however, that Apple recently removed most adult apps from the AppStore, except for mild stuff from established, predictable publishers like Playboy. Idiosyncratic! Maybe. But even if we accept that companies just want to control their products, what are we to think if these products (including 'open source' copycats where devs are kept in larger cages) are successful enough to become a common medium for art, news, commerce and speech itself? A DMCA-shaped unfree-speech zone is fast becoming the hottest and most profitable place to make cultural and creative investments. Moreover, if Apple takes its position here seriously, why wouldn't it ultimately wish to clean up other things that your kids might download from--such as the web itself?


  1. It’s just lucky that the iPad and the iPhone don’t ship with something like a general purpose web browser that kids could use to access all the porn on the planet.

  2. Android has a porn store!?? Sweet. With this news and Rupert Murdoch endorsing the iPad I’m starting to think Apple couldn’t be less relevant…

  3. There are plenty of “porn stores” (web sites that hide the porn behind a paywall) that work just fine with the iPhone or iPad, because the devices have a web browser.

    Since Apple is fully aware of this, they are aware that the claim that this is about porn is a falsehood. It’s about money and control.

  4. thank god HTML5 will allow us to watch streaming porn on our iPhones finally – being restricted to youtube was terrible.

    thanks for all the porn, steve!

  5. “Moreover, if Apple takes its position here seriously, why wouldn’t it ultimately wish to clean up other things that your kids might download from–such as the web itself?”

    True…where will they stop? They’ll stop when/if they reach a point where the walled garden is no longer profitable.

    I, for one, like knowing any app I download to my i things has been vetted for spyware, malware, etc. by Apple. Given that, I can live without the porn apps. For that “give”, I “take” away a good gadget experience.

    What will I do if Safari starts filtering the internet? 1) I don’t think they will do that, 2) If they do, I’ll fret about it at that point. I have enough to worry about without adding might-never-happen-what-ifs to the mix.

    1. So if given a choice you would only install software vetted by Apple. That’s valid for you. If you would voluntarily choose to limit yourself to Apple-approved software, then why do you need Apple to dictate what you may run and take the choice away from you?

  6. To be fair, if Microsoft had figured out a way to steal 30% of every purchase for every piece of software that ever ran on your computer, they’d probably make up ridiculous excuses also.

  7. Are your kids going to use their credit card to buy porn?

    Hopefully sooner rather than later someone will devise a hack to enable the device to run unsigned software for all the troublemakers who want to run whatever software they want on hardware that they purchased.

    Anti-user measures just beg to be circumvented.

  8. “if Apple takes its position here seriously, why wouldn’t it ultimately wish to clean up other things ”

    That is a slippery slope fallacy. The market will decide.

    1. For those who aren’t familiar with economic terms, “the market will decide” is a way of saying “que sera, sera”.

    2. No dougrogers.

      A slippery slope argument goes like this: Apple has censored the app store. It’s just a matter of time before they censor Safari and then eventually they will censor the entire internet.

      What Rob is saying, is that it is pointless to ban unsigned apps in the app store to avoid teh pr0n because Safari can be used on the same device to get all teh pr0n one could ever want. So it is questionable that this is their primary motivation for mainting complete control over all app content on the device.

      1. No putty. I didn’t argue with that. I quoted the concluding statement. That is a Slippery Slope Fallacy.

      2. All I can say is, I went out earlier this week and spent $600 on an iPad 32 because it was clear that my wife wasn’t going to be happy until she got one.

        And now I feel so cheap.

        Ah, the things we do for love.

  9. This has nothing to do with MS vs Apple. What (IMHO) Rob brings about is an issue of fundamental and precious freedoms. Apple is taking upon itself the role of censor, in an open, non-apologetic manner. It’s like if they said “our product takes precedence over your antiquated notion of freedoms”.

    Such a position *may* be permissible when the notion they are openly disputing is unclear (for example, products for which you have no way of “opening”: there is no jurisprudence about “if you can’t open it it’s not yours” – even when there is strong opinion about it).

    But freedom of speech, press, and such are *not* open to interpretation (no matter what George W may have told us). That makes Jobs’ assault particularly infuriating. Twice so for us “fans”, who still remember the Big Brother ad during SuperBowl. Jobs and Gates are, finally, the same.

  10. yeah well kids can just convert any porn video “internet dvd whatever” to mp4 and play it on the iphone, i pad, i touch. oh yeah for free by the way.

  11. As a horrible, inattentive parent i appreciate the fact that so many companies are offering to protect my child from the dangers of seeing adults make more children.

  12. If someone told me that Apple would eventually become like AOL of the 90’s, I would have laughed.

    The iPad seems like an AOL device. Lame.

  13. A porn store sounds like the perfect solution if this is actually the issue for Apple. Have people register their own content as NSFW, and anything that appears in the general (kid-accessible) stream that is inappropriate they can tear down and no-one objects.

    To institute a more extensive password/identity system on the NSFW stuff would be a doddle. Parents of young children could disable it permanently on first boot-up, other people might have to jump through an extra hoop if they suddenly find themselves yearning for porn.

    Unless their objection is actually ‘You can download them’ and not just ‘your kids can download them’ this isn’t an objection at all.

  14. If anyone wants porn on their iPhone, no one is stopping them. If anyone wants to sell, tad or give away porn for the iPhone, no one is stopping them from doing that either. The iPhone can play and display mp3s, movie files, PDFs, cbr files, pub files, etc. Any of these formats could be used to distribute content for e iPhone and apple wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.

    If apple chooses not to sell porn themselves, that’s fine. They aren’t required to, any more than any other shopkeeper. Comparing selling porn content to distributing web browsers is ridiculous. They aren’t the same thing. Apple isn’t responsible for the Internet because it offers a web browser, but they are responsible for content in their own store.

    1. “Comparing selling porn content to distributing web browsers is ridiculous. They aren’t the same thing. Apple isn’t responsible for the Internet because it offers a web browser, but they are responsible for content in their own store.”

      I don’t think the dedicated wailers/gnashers are going to be able to appreciate that, but thank you for adding some reason to the debate.

    2. “Apple isn’t responsible for the Internet because it offers a web browser, but they are responsible for content in their own store.”

      You are glossing over the fact that the only reason Apple is responsible for app store content is because they designed it that way. They could have left the platform open to all developers and applications and left it at that. Instead they are going pay people to decide for me whether the fart app or the titty app is worthy enough for me?

      No thanks.

    3. If apple chooses not to sell porn themselves, that’s fine. They aren’t required to, any more than any other shopkeeper. […] Apple isn’t responsible for the Internet because it offers a web browser, but they are responsible for content in their own store.

      Huh? I think you’re missing what is being argued about. Apple was asked why you couldn’t download *other* applications, outside of the app store, outside of Apple’s control (like you can on the Android). They weren’t asked why there weren’t porn apps in their app store.

      Apple said that if they let you download other apps, then kids would download porn. Rob pointed out that kids can already download porn in the iPad.

      No one is suggesting that Apple should offer a porn app on its store.

  15. When someone gets an html5 streaming porn site ready, they should go to one of these events with an iPad and just start it running while Jobs is on stage.

  16. Apple can “clean up” its own store all it wants. That’s its right as a company. Apple is the gatekeeper, and it doesn’t have to be entirely democratic.

    If Apple wants to try and censor a free and open web, however, it will require some help from the government, and they will both run into that pesky little thing we call the First Amendment.

    1. The recent net neutrality ruling contradicts you. It suggests that, just like Comcast, Apple could strike a deal that makes it so only Yahoo search can be used on their devices/services. Google and Bing and others would be blocked.

      There is nothing freedom of speech related, really. A given company can simply decide not to offer that part of the internet to you. (Today they don’t offer any part of the internet that relies heavily on Flash for example). Then it’s up to you to decide if you want to buy that company’s device and the content they offer.

      It’s not a first amendment question though. Everyone has a right to say things. You don’t have a right to hear what they say on all media platforms. The government doesn’t have the right to censor most things. Companies do have the right to censor their offerings.

  17. A very safe answer indeed, but complete bull**** too. Of course, in addition to big brothering you, Apple also wants to plaster iAds all over your applications and any worthwhile upgrades like multitasking with 4.0 will not be accessible for “legacy” devices such as 3G. Who needs PORN, when you are getting screwed by Apple already?

  18. I swear I’m really about done with Apple after these what… 30 years???

    Bullshit. It’s all about making 30% off of every app sold. That’s it. Control the device and control the content and control the pricing. It’s what every profit focused entity wants. Just admit it already Jobs.

  19. If you bought that line from Steve, you’re the proud owner of bullshit.

    The real reason for the “iPhone walled garden” is far more illusive and difficult to explain.

    Apple’s mission, (that is, Steve Jobs’ Apple) has always, ALWAYS been to deliver a quality user experience for computing. And Steve feels that the iPhone is NOT a personal computer. Yes, it runs programs and games and copies and pastes and has an IP address and yadda yadda yadda. But it is, first and foremost, a phone. And when someone calls your phone, you expect it to work.

    Windows computing has proven that the average user is not good at maintaining the health of their system when a whole bunch of crapware is available for them to install. Viruses and adware run rampant, and needless trinkets like “Bonzo Buddy” degrade stability and performance so that the user and have a little animated monkey in their taskbar.

    Steve doesn’t want iPhones crashing, failing to receive calls, performing sluggishly, full of malware, etc. Because when that happens, the dumb users aren’t going to say “Golly, I shouldn’t have put so much crap on this thing”, they will say, “This stupid iPhone sucks!”

    So, at the expense of your digital liberties, Apple delivers a quality mobile experience. Say what you will about it, but you can’t argue with the facts: Users Are Stupid.

    I know: I’m an IT Manager.

    1. And as you know, when stupid users go looking for porn, they often end up crufting up their machines with 10 different malware apps that renders the computer useless. FREE PORN, just click yes to install this “SYSTEM OPTIMIZER ANTIVIRUS 2012” and gorge at the trough of free porn! Or, replace free porn with “FREE SMILIES 4 your Email”. Gets ’em everytime.

      I have to say, whatever the reasons, I can understand Apples decision to not allow unsigned apps.

  20. I can watch porn with my Wii (stop that snickering, Jenkins), via the web browser, but I can’t buy porn for my Wii from the Virtual Console. How is this different?

  21. I think the objective for Apple is in not being responsible (read, liable) for verifying the age of the downloader.

  22. since when was a £300 phone a child’s toy? besides, if and when i choose to watch pornography, the last thing i’d choose to watch it on is a crappy little screen like that of an i{phone|pad}.

    OK so apple want to apply puritanical values to it’s appstore – fine, it’s apple’s call. i just choose not to buy it becaause of that. Not that I insist on watching pornography on everything that had a screen and is connected to the internet – rather that I choose not to do business with those who seek to limit what enters my sensory inputs due to values that I don’t hold.

  23. As I said elsewhere; Don’t buy it.

    We’ll have DRM/Lockdown free imitators coming out of the woodworks within a year. Good investment ($, programming, etc.) idea.

    Apple deserves thanks for one thing only; Clearing the Bullsh-t from the market that’d hamstring such a device otherwise. But they should have gotten together with the 900lb Gorilla on Viagra (Microsoft) and as a 600lb Gorilla on Quintriple Shot Lattes ganged up on the Music and Movie industry to force what they feel their customers would have preferred.

    Imagine if someone makes a light tablet PC (is it really that hard?) called “No BullSh-T” that is just a linux box (perhaps Windows 7 netbook) you can put whatever the F*ck you want on it. Made to be not too pricey, durable and functional. Reasonable touch screen for art and other stuff.

    For Gawdz sake, LET people keep their “Collections” legal or otherwise. Just start selling new stuff and you can be rabid pit bulls on Crack over it while it’s “New” (within 5 years) Get people used to quickly buying stuff that’s new for a reasonable price, and make sure they know the “Focus” will be protecting the new stuff, you’ll ‘Teach’ without trouble people to buy from their format. The “Stolen” stuff will just maintain interest for “Side Sales”… (feel guilty about stealing our 70s movie? Spend $5 here and you are OK with us!!!)

  24. I am certain Steve Jobs knows that you can already do porn on your iPhone/iPad/iTouch. It is called the Internet and some sites are optimized for Apple products already. If he is really this concerned about pornography, perhaps he should remove web browsing capability altogether. At this point, he is moving toward complete domination/control of your device anyway.

  25. Apple is basically telling you that you can’t access certain content in certain ways using its iPhone/Pod/Pad line of products, and that you can only run certain applications on those devices. That’s no different than any of the other products that we buy and use every day. The underlying technical construction of the iPod is such that it could be used as a general purpose computer, but Apple isn’t selling or supporting the device as such. If you want to hack an iPhone so that you can turn it into a general-purpose computer, you’re free to do so, but then you no longer have a supported product, and you can no longer reasonably expect to be allowed to connect to Apple’s iPhone services such as the App store.

    Just remember that buying an iPhone does not mean you’ve signed away your right to watch porn or run whatever apps you want. It just means that you can’t do those things on that particular device, at least not if you want to continue to own a supported product. If the restrictions imposed by the iPhone make the product unattractive or unsuitable for you, then don’t buy it: you have other choices. Insisting that every electronic device function as an open platform, general purpose computing device is unrealistic and ultimately reduces consumer choice. There is a reason why a lot of people will pay a premium for limited-function, managed devices, and it isn’t because they’re all sheep. Sometimes, a specialized but limited tool is entirely worth having; just don’t expect it to do more than it promises.

    Open general-purpose computing platforms are great. Given the choice, I’d rather have one of those than all the proprietary gadgets in the world. But what I really want is a open, general-purpose computing platform plus a judicious selection of specialized devices that serve a particular purpose at a particular time.

  26. None of this is about Apple choosing to sell or not sell porn. It is about Apple not allowing people to choose what software they wish to run on devices they have purchased and own and which, having a processor, memory, an input device, and a display, are small computers regardless of whether anyone chooses not to call them that.

  27. First, equating porn with unsigned software. Wow. Asinine.

    Second, open and unrestricted platforms always win out over closed environments. PCs, the Internet, Open Source software, the evolution of palmtop computing (via palm and handspring) were all a result of *gasp* unsigned apps. So, not just asinine, but either willfully clueless or just a lying asinine sack of poo.

    Third, making a specious inference that people who might have access to porn are going to force it upon their children, is just outrageous.

    Fourth, anybody in tech who ever said “We won’t do porn, porn is bad.” pretty much ends up out of a job in the tech arena. Happened to one of the CEOs at a Tier1 ISP I used to work for. I’ve seen it happen elsewhere. It is nice to pontificate and moralize, but that is best done at home in front of a mirror. Bottom line is that people want what they want, and they don’t pay you for enforcing morals they usually only give lip service to. His argument for “which platform is better” is weak at best.

  28. “The statistics are truly staggering. According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. In that same second 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S.

    It’s big business. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion. 2006 & 2005 U.S. Pornography Industry Revenue Statistics, 2006 Top Adult Search Requests, 2006 Search Engine Request Trends are some of the other statistics revealed here.”


    To be perfectly honest I believe in a world without apple (except for the very first one), but a world without porn? Yuck! Disgusting.

  29. I think you’re missing what is being argued about. Apple was asked why you couldn’t download *other* applications, outside of the app store, outside of Apple’s control

    I can do that and I did by jail breaking my iPhone. But I didn’t ask apple’s permission or expect them to offer support for my jail broken phone. Like most people I know, after a week or two, I wiped my phone and went back to apple’s system. It just worked better for me.

    I’m not interested in porn on my phone, but if i was, I could use any one of a dozen various readers, viewers and players in the app store to do that. I wouldn’t need to ask apple for permission or expect them to support that either.

    There is no infringement of rights going on here. Insisting that apple allow every and any app that comes along to be installed on the device they designed and made served by their own store is unreasonable, and a violation of apple’s right to sell whatever kind of product they want.

    1. you. clown.

      Insisting that apple allow every and any app that comes along to be installed on the device they designed and made served by their own store is unreasonable, and a violation of apple’s right to sell whatever kind of product they want.

      No one is insisting on anything. People are just saying “This device….it actually sucks bad because of the limitations. Don’t buy it!”.

      Apple is saying “Hey, but it’s for your own good, because we care”.

      Rob is saying “Hey Apple, nice lies! I’m gonna explain to my thousands of readers why your reason is obviously a lie, so people can see that your product is very limited and designed to benefit the Apple mothership, not the user”

      Then the fanbois (this is where you come in) are saying “but its Apple’s product and blah blah blah. Here, but look: here are examples of other scummy companies doing bad stuff, so Apple should be able to too! apple rulez forever!”

      You shouldnt have to jailbreak something to make it do what you want. A tablet PC is 1000 times better than this ijunk, and that is all people are saying. Get it?

  30. Anyone else find it ironic that Rob calls Android a “copycat” on the day that iPhone tries AND FAILS to catch up to its feature-set?

    Regarding all of these apple drones regurgitating the nonsense they’ve been fed about why it’s such a good thing that you can’t “side load” apps on their phones and tablets: Would you make the same argument for your mac laptop?

  31. Umm. iPhone plays quicktime just fine from porn sites that serve it. Um.. yeah, so porn is there.

    I appreciate the iron fist approach. There’s already enough approved crap in the app store. The more they can filter out the better. The less time I spend configuring my phone, the better. No jailbreaking… it would be the equivalent of modding my car with non-stock parts and not being able to get it serviced. It’s the old tank vs batmobile thing… give me my batmobile. I know the limitations of the device and… I’m cool with it.

    And more importantly, I’ve laid my hands on the other competitors and… they just seem like wannabes w.r.t. the most important part: the interface.

  32. Apple has a porn app already, it’s called “Safari”. A simple search reveals more free porn vids (optimized for the iPhone, even) than I could possibly watch in the phone’s expected service life.

    1. exactly!!!!

      I love how everyone is applying emotional reasoning to a corporate entity.

      One porn app sold to a 12 year old, or one with one 16-year old girl’s phot would cause enough liability to take a bite out of their apple.

      It’s about the liability, something you have to consider when your pockets are as deep as Apple’s.

  33. Macs work.

    This is the thing most of you ignore.

    Maybe it’s cause you like spending your saturdays on your knees, taking your PCs apart and putting them back together again, trying to find the right chemistry of supposedly compatible products that are actually compatible.

    Me, I’m making music, designing websites, etc. I don’t like to spend hours and hours customizing my computer. I like to take my computer and make stuff.

    So maybe you like to rage on iPad stories to prove how smart you are, how much more adept at computer usage than the average luddite. Rock on, man, you rule!

    Meanwhile, the rest of the world appreciates Apple’s stuff because they’re control freaks, they don’t release stuff that doesn’t work and let the consumers beta test it, they don’t let an army of lazy programmers put crap up for sale that crashes other apps, and they don’t make stuff that is ugly.

    That, for me and many other people is well worth the premium. I make my living all day every day on Apple products and frankly, if they tripled the prices I would pay them. Having spent years working on PCs running both Windows and Linux, it’s a privilege to work on Jobs’ machines and if that makes me a fanboy, I guess I’m a (rather old) fanboy.

    Meanwhile, as long as they maintain their iron fist of control (and, as an owner of Apple stock, I hope they do) their products will continue to function as intended and they will sell truckloads of their beautiful stuff, including the excellent toy known as the iPad.

  34. The market decides. The market is you and I. You and I decide.
    By buying an iProduct, you decide to buy into its biases. And those are centralised, closed, opaque and authoritarian. It’s like the Church of Rome all over again.
    The same money buys you something that runs Android.

  35. I’ve been using my ipad since Saturday, teapot and it not only doesn’t suck, it’s totally replaced my laptop, which is in need of retirement to a desk and monitor. It may not be designed to fit your needs, but it sure is designed to fit mine- no limitations here. You can insist that it is the worst thing since Hitler, and tell me that it’s all set up for apple’s benefit and not mine, but it isn’t going to mean much to me. Because I have the thing. It’s loaded up with DRM free music, comic books and videos that I didn’t buy from the itunes store. It takes care of my web surfing and mail reading needs. It’s a lot of fun and easy to carry around. It works. If being a “clown fanboy” means having a computer that works, then I’m happy to be one.

  36. Where will this end?

    A computer manufacturer decides if certain content YOU might choose to view on a device you purchased from them is ‘morally accetable’ or not.

    Next… political material? science-skeptic material? websites of corporations Apple don’t like?

    Jobs et al seem more and more to be like the fascists that grew to power in the 1930s – except that they potentially have more power and influence.

    Apple used to parody themselves as champions against Orwell’s vision of ‘1984’ but ironically that is a system they could usher in. Remember folks, the digital revolution means people like Apple, MS and Google could have more *real* influence and power than democratically elected (and accountable) politicians !!

  37. What gives them the right to choose what people view on a device they own? Apple can go screw themselves.

  38. Why not make a nsfw part of the app store that requires proof of age, and make all porn apps require a password entry every time they are launched. That is a better barrier to kids being exposed inadvertently than cable tv offers.

    I wonder if I was more damaged by exposure to porn as a kid or exposure to depictions of violence in media. I don’t every remember having any porn nightmares…

    1. Again, it’s not about wanting Apple to sell porn apps. It’s about wanting to install programs that don’t come through the app store. The porn is a red herring.

  39. i love my dsi i think i have only used the browser for porn and they block something like that on a device ment for an older audience like us thats kinda lame

  40. There is a very important distinction here. Apple MAKES money off of the applications sold through their App store. If users bought hard-core pornography through the Apple application store, Apple would, in effect, be in the hard=core pornography and distribution business. They, as a business in a free country, should be able to choose the things they want to and do not want to sell. It’s as simple as that. All this talk of them censoring Safari is ridiculous.

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