Apple caught doing the flip-flop: the iSealClub story

It’s been a while since Apple’s made a gaffe I’ve felt like writing about. Of course, that changed when this little gem popped in front of my eyes.

Techcrunch recently published a story about an iPhone game that didn’t pass Apple’s review team. Not that it’s exactly news anymore that Apple is completely arbitrary and capricious with which iPhone apps are officially allowed to be sold and which aren’t, but this sets what I believe to be a new low.

The game in question is iSealClub, a game based on the Canadian Seal Hunt. The core of the game is clubbing seals to death, which may well make a few people uncomfortable.

From the article:

[iSealClub developer Matthew] Smyth emailed Apple before ever writing the app to see if they would find it questionable, and they responded that they didn’t pre-approve apps. So Smyth built it. And yes, it was rejected on the grounds that it contains “content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable.”

How objectionable is violence? So objectionable that Apple has in the past approved many more games for the iPhone that are at least as violent than iSealClub, such as Turkey Hunt, Deer Hunter 3D, Pocket God, and Grand Theft Auto.

This is Apple at its most egregiously hypocritical. This epitomizes everything that is wrong with Apple’s iron-fist rule of the iPhone platform. If Apple itself does not want to sell these under an App Store labeled with its own company name, that’s fine. But in the interest of defending free expression, these should be available from third parties without having to play with fire by jailbreaking one’s iPhone.

I challenge Apple’s PR people to come out and say in as many words that Apple as a company actually does not support free expression when it comes to the iPhone. Apple’s actions already say this; why would they not put their money where their mouth is?