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April 23, 2009

Tech trends: eco-data, spam pollution and Apple pulls an app

Posted: 01:28 PM ET

Here are a few stories is watching today:


ECO-DATA: Wired magazine writer Alexis Madrigal has a must-read piece on how data is the key to making environmentally conscious decisions. My inbox has been flooded lately with companies that claimed they were "going green" for Earth Day. Madrigal writes about how a few data crunchers are actually trying to figure out what works and doesn't (turns out: solar backpacks, not so helpful).

SPAM: An NYT blog raises conflict-of-interest questions about a study that says spam wastes a bunch energy. One strangely phrased statistic stuck out for me: one spam message produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving 3 feet.

IPHONE: You may have thought that nothing could spoil the day for Apple, since the billionth iPhone app likely will be downloaded today. But you're wrong. One iPhone application is diverting attention from that milestone because it let users shake a crying, digital baby until it dies. Apple reportedly decided to pull the Baby Shaker app after parenting groups expressed outrage.

The incident raises questions about Apple's quality control measures for iPhone apps, many of which are developed independently. Here's what some news orgs are saying on that:

From the Telegraph in the UK:

Apple has recently relaxed its rules on applications in the App Store. Bans on applications which made noises simulating breaking wind and allowed users to jiggle womens breasts have been lifted.


The company has been criticized by software developers for not allowing other kinds of programs, such as those that pass digital gas, into the App Store.

Such apps ultimately were approved, although the developer of one, "Whoopie Cushion," was first told by Apple that his program did not "comply with Community Standards,” programs that have “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 judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

And from Huffington:

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said "Baby Shaker" went on sale Monday, and confirmed that Apple removed it Wednesday. She would not comment on why the program was initially approved for sale nor about how many people downloaded the game. Apple itself screens each iPhone application, a process some prospective iPhone application developers have complained can take weeks or months. Others have said Apple gives little feedback when it accepts or rejects a program.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has rejected apps that let iPhone users throw virtual shoes at President George W. Bush or watch clips from the "South Park" cartoon. It has accepted numerous programs that simulate flatulence.

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Filed under: Earth Day • environment • Internet • iPhone

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Franky   April 23rd, 2009 1:33 pm ET

They'll be fine, I mean, come on guys, that cute little baby you shake and boom, pop goes the weasel. That cute little thing...ummmm, I ain't winning this one, huh? LOL!!

Kind of reminds me of the SEC, LOL!!

They'll be fine, but still, that cute little baby...

bj   April 23rd, 2009 2:17 pm ET

Baby Shaker. That just goes to show you how far someone will go to make money. That's sick. How did it come to reach the public to begin with? They were counting on making a few bucks before they had to take it down. Then they'll make some bogus claim about how they "didn't know" and blame some "little guy" for it. Then the little guy wil get screwed like he always does.

CinSA   April 23rd, 2009 2:44 pm ET

look, if you dont want to see these things, dont buy them! hello!?

Nick Marino   April 23rd, 2009 3:36 pm ET

that's so lame of Apple to limit apps like that. granted, i have no experience with the iPhone, but i think Apple would best be served labeling some apps as "EXPLICIT" (just like music in their ITunes store) and selling that way. let consumers decide which apps they do and do not want.

Eric   April 23rd, 2009 3:39 pm ET

YAY! now we have the Apple thought police...Seig Heil Steve!

Bubba   April 23rd, 2009 4:13 pm ET

Better a fart than South Park. That thing is really annoying. How about an app where you can kill the creators of South Park?

Satweavers   April 23rd, 2009 4:17 pm ET

Clearly the Baby Shaker iPhone App in horribly inappropriate. I might shell out for an app that lets you tilt the phone around and simulate waterboarding of the top members of the Bush Administration.

Pam   April 23rd, 2009 4:30 pm ET

What IDIOT allowed this insensitive and violence-inducing iPhone app to pass through? Clearly, the quality control people should all be fired!

Matt   April 23rd, 2009 5:58 pm ET

wow. it seems as though we as a people have lost all ability to think and decide things for ourselves. we have to rely and have come to expect what basically amounts to censors to do it for us. WE GET IT. you think the baby shaking app is horrible. . . well i don't. . . i think its funny. downloading the app doesn't mean you endorse shaking babies. furthermore if you are offended by something, for the love of paved roads act like you have a damn bit of sense and don't download the app, or the listen to the song, or watch the movie. it's that simple! stop crying to the hall monitor every time something that offends you comes along. think of all the time you'll have to do something that actually makes a difference in the world when you stop whining!

Nodack   April 23rd, 2009 6:04 pm ET

You know what they say, you can't please everybody.

Apple releases the iPhone and people complain that there is no third party iPhone Apps so Apple releases the developers kit a year later to quench demand. Then Apple gets a lot of heat for allowing some apps, but not allowing others such as the whoopee cushion types. "Who is apple to decide what people should and should not be able to download on their personal device" is the war cry so Apple allows the whoopee cushion apps to appease those crying too much interference from Apple.

Now the baby app comes out and people like Phil Hendrie chastise Apple for making and releasing such an App and even called Tim Cook an idiot for coming out with it. Hey Phil, Apple doesn't make those apps and Tim Cook has probably never heard of the app until this which hunt started. Anybody with a computer can download the developers kit and make their own. There are over 10,000 apps in the store now and Apple tries to get it right by policing the apps, but they will never be able to please everybody.

For every person complaining about the App there is another saying you have no right to tell them what they can and cannot do with their own personal property. Apple is stuck being the judge and jury on this and cannot possibly make everybody happy.

So for people like Phil Hendrie, get your facts straight before you start calling out people and companies on the air. I tried to email Phil Hendrie of the Phil Hendrie show, but you can't email him until you sign up and pay him $10 a month. Sorry Phil, not going to happen.

ronald   April 23rd, 2009 6:12 pm ET

I can use my iphone to watch a video on Youtube of bad things happening to fake babies. Apple: would you kindly block me from being able to do that? Thanks.

South Park is a very intelligent and funny tv show. Bubba, you might want to watch a couple of good episodes before you choose a fart over South Park... unless of course you are a Bubba from the South who is the type of Bubba who gets made fun of by the creators of South Park on a regular basis. Because then you might get angry and that could be bad.

P.S. "They took are jaaabss!"

Bewildered   April 23rd, 2009 6:16 pm ET

I've been laughing all day over this Baby Shaker Game, if only because I've been brainstorming all the ways that the approval meeting could have gone. "Hey, gang, to appeal to the more edgy consumer base let's put out a game where you shake, shake, shake a baby 'til it dies." "Sounds like a winner, Tom. Someone's gunnin' for that promotion in the development department." I mean seriously, WTF? (lmao)

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