Apple vs Porn

I’m a little late posting about this topic but I just started blogging. Anyway, I want to have my 2 cents worth ‘cos:

1. I’m an Apple fan. Have been one since I first used a PowerMac 6300 in 1996. A very strange time to be using a Mac and certainly not a proud period in Apple’s history but I fell in love with that grey pizza box that allowed me to customise everything and didn’t hang.
2. There is no way one can legally buy or view porn material in Singapore (not counting the Internet. You can’t access Playboy but Hustler works and so do tons of other sites. Different story for a different time maybe). No mags on sale, no adult cable channel, no DVDs, nada. Porn is simply a no-no. It’s off limits and there’s nothing to debate about. So this is interesting ‘cos it’s happening at a moment I can have a say.

It’s a familiar story now – Apple takes a stand against porn and wouldn’t allow any of it on their app store. Mr. Jobs said that if people want porn, they can buy an Android phone. And last week, there was a heated e-mail exchange between Steve Jobs and a reporter from Gawker. No PR stunts, no co-ordinated approach, just a personal exchange. Godly-Steve said the Apple platform offers “freedom from porn”.

I think it’s great Apple is keeping the app store porn free. Many kids today are familiar with using the app store and it wouldn’t be difficult for them to navigate accidentally into an adult section. The iPhone and iPod Touch are portable devices, unlike a computer, so they could be doing this anywhere and all the time. Gift cards are also a common present which means kids could easily purchase porn. Maybe Apple could write parental controls for this. But they don’t have that now so I can see why they want it porn free. In a general store, there is at least the cashier who could stop a child from buying porn. Incase I’m accused of being anti-porn, I’m not. If the porn-gates open in Singapore, yay for those who like it. But like cigarettes and alcohol, there should be restrictions and this is the case everywhere.

What I find most fascinating about this issue is the comments from the public, the pro-porn group. It almost doesn’t make sense. I’ll paraphrase them:

1. If Apple is so uptight about porn, what about Safari? The browser is the gateway to porn.
That’s like saying there shouldn’t be roads and sidewalks so people can’t get to stores to buy porn magazines or DVDs. Infrastructure is built so people can go where they want to go. A shop is built so its owners can sell what they want to sell.

2. It’s taking away freedom
I don’t know about America’s declaration of rights but if consumers are crying the freedom song, how about Apple? Don’t they have the freedom to choose what they want to sell? And how is it different from Target, Walmart and the likes? They don’t sell porn too. And the big picture is that Apple isn’t controlling the Internet or telling developers what they can and can’t develop. Developers can still go about writing their apps for porn. Just peddle it elsewhere. No one accuses McDonald’s of stifling and controlling the spirits industry because it doesn’t sell beer (in US). And what is more ubiquitous than old McD?

3. Steve Jobs shouldn’t be imposing his moral values on others
He’s not. Consumers have a choice. The iPhone isn’t the only smartphone around and neither is the Apple app store the only one around. Don’t like it, don’t buy it. Again, Apple doesn’t control the Internet or Internet content. I think it’s also interesting that the head of a company is called all kinds of names for running a company according to his values. Why is it so horrible that Steve Jobs doesn’t want to sell porn so he can sleep better at night? As a father, maybe he really feels strongly about it. Many other companies have ethical values and stick by them too. No problem there.

Who knows at the end of the day where it’ll all go. If Apple starts losing serious share of market ‘cos everyone’s buying an Android for porn, maybe they’ll peddle backwards. Or if they develop parental controls, they could allow for porn apps again. I’m standing by Apple and this move should be highly applauded especially since Steve Jobs is willing to leave lucrative money on the table for what he believes in.