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Mix Apple with Politics – Not a Good Recipe

I’m holding my breath. I’m now into my third month of waiting for Apple to approve my iPhone app. Yesterday I heard from Apple that they need more time to think about it.

I’m holding my breath. I’m now into my third month of waiting for Apple to approve my iPhone app. Yesterday I heard from Apple that they need more time to think about it.

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My app is pretty cool; it is called “MSNBC.com Cartoons” and it features a real time news feed of political cartoons by top cartoonists from around the world. My app will be supported and promoted by MSNBC.com along with their other iPhone apps “¦ that is, if Apple approves it.

It seems I have plenty to worry about. Apps for the iPhone have been multiplying at an exponential rate, with over 100,000 now approved. Developers are looking to strike it rich with the next “iFart,” but as the sheer numbers of apps explodes, the chance of an app being a hit becomes more remote and frustration with Apple’s app approval process grows. Developers have to invest in creating a finished app before submitting it to Apple, which can arbitrarily trash the investments and hopes of aspiring developers ““ as happened to a friend of mine this week.

My buddy Tom Richmond, the brilliant Mad Magazine artist, just finished drawing 544 caricatures of members of congress for an app called “Bobble Rep.” The app works as a directory of every congressman, displaying their contact information by zip code or by the GPS location of the iPhone user. Shake the iPhone and the rep’s head “bobbles.” It is a cute app, and the caricatures are not unflattering. Apple rejected “Bobble Rep.”

A letter from Apple explained the rejection:

“”¦ We’ve reviewed Bobble Rep ““ 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section  3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

A screenshot of this issue has been attached for your reference.”

This is the image that Apple found "objectionable."

At right is a screenshot of the objectionable image that Apple attached to their rejection letter.

Ray Griggs, the producer of the “Bobble Rep” app, suffered a blow as he saw his investment in programming and in 544 Tom Richmond cartoons arbitrarily flushed away. Griggs writes,

“I wonder if they saw my website (www.iwantyourmoney.net) that promotes the iPhone app and rejected the app because I am making a Republican Documentary. Are they trying to shut me down? (Just speculation. However, it is uncanny that the “offensive” page image they sent me is of the California reps.) Is there anything on this page that could possibly be found offensive?”

My cartoonist buddy Tom Richmond writes,

Clearly this app does not ‘ridicule public figures’ and is violating nothing, but Apple has decided the world must be protected from the insidious subversiveness this would force upon the public and the brutal, heinous ridicule that my cruel, cruel caricatures would subject these politicians to.

Hard to believe that anybody could be this blind. Maybe they just have a monkey doing the approval of their apps, and he throws a dart at a dartboard with “approved” and “rejected” targets on it and whatever it hits is the fate of that app. That would explain how they could approve an app with a cartoon baby picture and when you shake the phone hard enough the baby dies. Yes, that one got through only to be yanked after some outraged people complained, but no way are a bunch of flame-throwing caricatures going to get through!!!

Unbelievable.”

Prolific iPhone app developer Brian Stormont has this advice for hopeful app applicants:

Don’t make any jokes about political figures, past or present, in either your app or the description in iTunes. Apple will most-likely reject your app.”

Apple would seem to be a bi-partisan offendee. App developer Brandyn Brosemer reports that his “iBush” app was rejected for the same reason. The app was a collection of actual George W. Bush quotes that the reader could scroll through.

Another Apple political app rejection is “MyShoe” which allowed users to throw shoes at president Bush.

Studies show that people use the iPhone differently than other mobile devices ““ they read news content on the iPhone and tend not to do so on other phones. The iPhone’s market share for news and opinion is dominant, while all other phones have an insignificant market share. Although any publisher can decide what content he wants in his own publication, Apple’s phone-news monopoly brings with it a public trust and responsibility in controlling content for a whole category of media.

And with my own political cartoons app review dragging on, I’m still holding my breath.

Turning blue now.

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

27 replies on “Mix Apple with Politics – Not a Good Recipe”

You might want to remind Mr. Richmond that monkeys don't throw darts at dart boards. What they throw is usually quite different.

Unbelievable! I access news on my phone all the time, and I don't even use AT&T, so no iPhone possible here. I would have loved that app if I had an iPhone, too. Apple is stupid about its apps. That baby shaking one should have never gotten through. I also would have been interested in the one where you could throw shoes at Bush, but I never did like Bush. Apple is stupid to not take on apps like that one.

Please make these apps (all of the rejected ones above) for the Blackberry! We'd LOVE to have them! 😀

Scott

Everyone is so friggin' sensitive these days about offending someone in jest. I thought the cartoons were pretty tame! If I drew them, Feinstein would have had bolts in her neck and a forehead scar.

So port the app to the Android Operating system. I am sure that Sprint, Qwest, Verizon, T-Mobile would love to have you.

And Google doesn't do any evil – well, most of the time at least….

You might as well start breathing Darryl, I hate the thought of losing a great cartoonist (political and other wise I'm sure) to some MORON who does'nt see what a gold mine they got if they loosen the restrictions a little. Oh well, that is life at the apple tree. Meanwhile keep your chin up and lets hope that they approve your app.

Publish your app for the Google Android OS. It will be much more welcome.

Because everyone knows iPhones (and all other apple creations) are for the people who want to seem cool, Blackberrys are for business users, and Android phones are for the intelligent.

DUH ! 'FREE' Enterprise (aka: CORPORATIONS) and Fascism in more than just a 'kissing cousins' relationship (or perhaps just good business, eh, don't offend, particularly those who might either invest in or regulate you, or both) just, go back as far as you want or can in history… wasn't there also something about GOOGLE and our good friends the Chinese (still ostensibly COMMIES, as well as major debt holders/investors in the US economy) and information and access restraint? Isn't it really just about Incestuous Money/Power Orgies, Church, State, Business, Military, etc…..
p.s. I'm still basically an analog or pre-analog boy, why all the big need for devices (I suppose those who need them know)? I have preferred Apple over Micro, but it seems to me that they are likely just the same-old with a 'hipper' face…

As far as the Griggs/Richmond “Bobble Rep” app goes there are already a dozen or more congressional directory apps and with Web access there is access to even more content via direct access to .gov sites (Thomas.gov, cbo.gov, epa.gov, nasa.gov) So it's nothing new.
And what if, just what if, on an update those caricatures weren't so flattering?
The lines got to be drawn and right now Apple's drawn it here.

It's not likely the Apple review board knew it but funny that Griggs is booked to appear as a guest on Fox News next week with Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee.
I'm sure it will come up as part of the Left Wing Conspiracy to put down the little guy. We'll see Beck make his next step down the McCarthyist road of demagoguery.

Apple is getting more like a Television network. Bean counting business people trying to defy President Lincoln's famous wisdom "YOU CAN'T PLEASE ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME" yet they try & end up pleasing nobody. It's the same arrogant yet fearfull mindset that AOL used to filter their network for potentialy offensive words like "breast" and they ended up insulting the members of their own "Breast Cancer Support Group" creating the biggest service cancellation deluge in a 24 hour period in history.

I agree with some of the others it should NOT be limited to the iphone. Android is growing at over %118 per year. Its used on devices on most major networks not just AT&T. Also lets not forget blackberry and palm web os :).

I can't imagine why anyone would want his app in the first place. Most of them offered are crap, why not his too!

I realize this blog entry is 11 days old, but I found "Bobble Rep (111th congress edition)" on the swedish app store. So either it got approved, or I am allowed to "ridicule" the your reps over here. I am buying and downloading the app as I type.

(There)
Aha, the iPhone thinks I am in PA (Pennsylvania?)
Well, that's a buck spent to support Mr. Richmond.
Let's see if Myshoe is in the app store…..Nope, and no MSNBC cartoons either.

But on a more serious note, apple needs to review their app reviewing.

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