Home A Bad Day for Apple: Banned iPhone Ads, Embarrassing Security Hole, and a Censored Comic

A Bad Day for Apple: Banned iPhone Ads, Embarrassing Security Hole, and a Censored Comic

For most companies, having to deal with one piece of bad publicity in a day is already bad enough. Apple, however, has to deal with three pieces of bad publicity today. In England, the Advertising Standards Authority, moved to ban one of Apple’s ads for the iPhone because of misleading statements in it. Also, an embarrassing security hole in the iPhone firmware lets anybody bypass your security code, and Apple’s move to ban a violent comic book from the App Store has also set off a minor firestorm of protests.

iPhone Ad Banned

Apparently, two British TV viewers were unhappy about the fact that one Apple TV ad for the iPhone stated that the phone would give you access to the whole Internet. However, because the phone does not support Flash or Java, these folks argued that this is a misleading statement and the Advertising Standards Authority  agreed.

Security Hole

The gaping security hole in Apple’s firmware for both the iPhone and iPod touch is maybe the most embarrassing of these three stories for Apple, especially because the problem was already known and fixed back in the days of the first iPhone.

If you lock your phone with a security code, anybody can bypass that code by hitting the ‘Emergency Call’ button and then double tapping your home button (if it is still set to display your favorites, which is the default behavior). After that, you have full access to the contact list, email, web etc.

If you want to protect your self from this, just set the home button to do anything but display your favorites (Settings -> General -> Home Button.)

Comic Book Controversy

As if all of this weren’t enough, Apple itself created some more controversy after it moved to ban the violent comic book Murderdrome (which is based on the ComicReader app) from its App Store. As Apple’s SDK states, the apps are not to offend anybody and Apple itself is the sole arbiter of offensiveness, so the company was in its right to ban this book, which, after all, features a good number of beheadings and ripped out limbs, which might make some users feel a bit queasy about the comic.

Apple’s SDK states:

“Applications must not contain 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 judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

On the other hand, this is a comic book and, while a bit over the top, it doesn’t feature anything that other comic books haven’t shown before.

For developers, this once again shows the dangers of working within Apple’s closed off iPhone ecology, where Apple has the final say over what gets included and what doesn’t, with no place but the Internet to complain about it.

So What Does Apple Do?

In typical Apple fashion, the company has not made any statement about any of these issues yet – and is likely not to do so anytime soon. That, for better or worse, is the way Apple operates. At the same time, though, the disastrous launch of MobileMe forced Apple to issue repeated notices about the status of the service. Maybe (and just maybe) this current firestorm of problems might just force the company to open up a bit more, though we don’t expect Steve Jobs to start blogging about iPhone apps anytime soon.

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