Apparently, a company wrote an application for the iPhone called Baby Shaker. It depicts a crying baby, and you vigorously shake the iPhone to make it stop, at which point its eyes are replaced by X’s.

Apple pulled the application from its store and apologized, saying, “This app is deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store.”

The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, however, has had enough, with a spokesperson calling it “the most cynical apology I have ever seen.” They plan to picket Apple stores, calling on them to “mitigate the harm they’ve now caused.”

What I find so interesting is how the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation has had “The PETA Effect” here, at least for me: so vehemently overstating your cause that you steer people to the other side. If I’d seen the application distributed, I’d surely have joined the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation in finding it horrifically offensive. It’s in bad taste and makes light of an abusive practice that kills many babies and leaves even more with permanent injuries and brain damage.

And yet, with them coming across as so overzealous, my “That’s really kind of funny” sense is triggered, just a tiny bit. I guess I find their position so outrageous since:

  • I don’t like Apple having sole control of what I can run on my iPhone. Apple pulled the app, which means that, unless I jailbreak my iPhone (voiding my warranty), I can’t have the application. I’m not sure I want this application, but it’s a sore spot with me. The fact that Apple pulled the app just drives home Apple’s exclusive control.
  • Apple promptly pulled the app. The “most cynical apology” actually seemed to be a pretty emphatic, “That application was horribly offensive. We screwed up big time in approving it!” from Apple. I’ve definitely heard much more cynical. (I’m sorry you feel that way…)
  • The application shows that shaking babies kills them. Sure, it demonstrates it in an awful way, but it’s like showing tapes of babies’ skulls being crushed to lobby against abortion. Isn’t this exactly what the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation should enjoy?
  • I think that, and then get the sneaking suspicion that they are loving this, because it’s giving them tremendous publicity. And calling for protests outside Apple stores, weeks after they pulled the application and apologized for it, only furthers that point.

What do you think? Was Apple’s apology (and prompt retraction) of the app good enough? Should Apple have left it up even though it was controversial?

2 thoughts on “Unapologetic

  1. I have to say I think letting it up in the first place was an honest mistake even if you feel that it was a mistake. They way they removed it and what they said seems to me to also be quite reasonable. I do think that the foundation is doing this all to ge tmore attention to a very real problem. I don’t feel they are being as honest about things as Apple though.

    I really don’t understand why there is so little fuss about Apple gateing what applications go on the iPhone. If Microsoft did the same thing I think there would be anti-trust suits going on in several states by now.

  2. I’d tend to agree, really. And judging by headlines and comments, I think a lot of people are starting to object. It’s nice to have a nicely-manicured store, and I hope Apple keeps it available. But if I write an iPhone app (and I want to!), I want to put it on my phone. And I want to be able to “side-load” apps — that is, not be locked into Apple!

    I almost wonder if AT&T has restrictions… I know things like Skype were vetoed in the past, as was a tethering program.

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