Yesterday's apparent opening of the iPhone to adult content has turned into a race between Apple and the developer about who decided to remove the application from iTunes and why.
First the "Hottest Girls" application was available, then it disappeared and the finger was quickly pointed at Apple's moralistic stance on shirtless models. Then the developer chipped in claiming that he had removed the app as sales were overloading his server, and now Apple's come back and is claiming they did remove the app 'cos they don't do porn.
Hottest Girls is a $1.99 app presenting photographs of scantily-clad girls regularly updated from a remote server - that last point is crucial. When ratings were introduced the publisher marked Hottest Girls with the maximum 17+, and then started updating the pictures with girls who were actually topless - as opposed to the underwear-clad models to which the service had previously been limited.
Like most quality media outlets we reported the story, and that the application had already become unavailable, though we could only speculate as to why until the developer explained on his web site:
"The Hottest Girls app is temporarily sold out. The server usage is extremely high because of the popularity of this app. Thus, by not distributing the app, we can prevent our servers from crashing ... To answer the question on everyone’s mind: Yes, the topless images will still be there when it is sold again. "
Human nipples, when attached to female bodies, are clearly pornographic, and as such breach the iTunes terms of service. So by yesterday afternoon Apple was telling CNN:
"The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and distributed ... This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program. The application is no longer available on the App Store."
But it's not just Hottest Girls that has disappeared from the Application store - other titles from the same publisher have also been exorcised including Hottest Guys and Send Flowers. Incurring the wrath of Cupertino seems to carry some severe repercussions.
Even the developer's web site (now) contains no reference to any of the applications or the accompanying fuss, so Apple has managed to ensure that iPhone users can download applications freely without fear of encountering a rouged female nipple, for another day at least. ®