Monday, May 4, 2009

Trent (NIN) head butting Apple over iPhone app rejected: Can he make a dent?

(read hereTrent head butting with Apple over rejected iphone app
Finally someone with enough marketing power and following goes through what we've been seeing for at least half a decade: the senseless censorship that is mandated in the mobile world. It's unheard of and unbelievable for traditional web marketers. I've seen this for a while now, specifically in the independant music world: almost every band has some content that doesn't match exactly the rules. is the answer not to serve them, or even worse, their audience?!. As Rich Miner said recently: "Nobody protects me when I'm browsing on my PC, why are they protecting me when I'm mobile-browsing?".

The answer is that this is a problem that operators, specifically US ones, have created themselves. The notion of educating subscribers that they can, and should call in whenever something goes wrong and they're just unhappy and want to bang someone, led to a gigantic and hungry support system that sucks the budgets underneath the carriers legs. (When was the last time you called Microsoft or Intel because you got the blue screen?!). The next piece for the carriers, then, is to restrict things that could go wrong on phones, resulting with subscribers either hacking phones or unaware of their phones capabilities. In other words, "buy a better monthly subscription, but please don't use it".

The reason I'm relating this Apple story to the operators is that I'm guessing these guidelines came from their marriage to AT&T (I already wrote about how healthy it would have been if Apple went operator-independant and sold unlocked phones. Here again, they would have freedom to do what's right, not what's mandated). What's even more infuriating, and it explains the inconsistency in apple's approval process, is that the guidelines change frequently. And I mean, weekly. Who has the time to read a 100-page "new operator guidelines", adn then implement them every time?

It'd be great if Trent could make a dent in how things work in the mobile space. Make decision makers think about the realities out there and growing volume of diverse content available on mobile, and how to best present it (enable parental controls on phones?). The reality, though, is that this is geat publicity for both sides, NIN & Apple. When the app comes out, there's gonna be more interest and demand. Apple will figure a way to work with NIN, it's worth bringing them through the VIP backdoor. The rest of the musicians will need to see their art scrubbed. clarify, I'm not a fan of any of that language or visual, which is why I haven't posted the link to Mashable, where you could see the language in the comments. I think sometimes musicians use it to express themselves, and that's ok, but I'm unsure it's needed outside that world. Just my 2 cents.

I've just come across Sue Marek's (Fierce Wireless) post on "Why do distasteful apps sell?". It's well worth reading, she makes very good points. I'd say there's no write or wrong in this push-pull economy. Who keeps creating nuclear weapons, despite the knowledge these are overall bad news for everyone? Why they do it? because there's demand.
I think Sue is just slightly off in her conclusion "I'd like to think that most app developers are more interested in creating clever solutions to practical problems rather than selling distasteful apps". While the statement is true, IMO, developers are after making money, primarily. Everything else follows. Which is why the iFarts of the world will proliferate and drive more buzz than any genuinely useful app will.

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