This Has Gone Too Far

This Has Gone Too Far

John Gruber at Daring Fireball recently tore Apple a new one for allegedly insisting that a developer remove entries in a reference book, specifically Wiktionary. NinjaWords’ iPhone app makes use of Wiktionary, which contains words such as shit, cunt and fuck, words which Apple employees specifically searched for when deciding on the acceptability of NinjaWords in the App Store.

Gruber’s post resulted in nothing short of an Internet shit storm and ultimately resulted in Apple’s Senior VP Phil Schiller sending Gruber an email denying that Apple insisted NinjaWord’s developers edit the reference material.

And I think Schiller is right. If you read Gruber’s original post, you’ll find a copy of the email Apple sent to Matchstick Software, the developers of NinjaWords. It reads, in part:

Parental Controls have been announced for iPhone OS 3.0. It would be appropriate to resubmit your application for review once this feature is available.

NinjaWords was submitted prior to iPhone 3.0, which meant parental controls were not in place at the time. Apple clearly says that Matchstick Software should wait until iPhone OS 3.0 is available and resubmit the application. Did they? No. Matchstick Software – of their own volition – begin editing the dictionary, removing the offensive entries.

Gruber interpreted these events, which are clearly laid out in his post, thusly:

Apple censored an English dictionary.

A dictionary. A reference book. For words contained in all reasonable dictionaries. For words contained in dictionaries that are used every day in elementary school libraries and classrooms.

He went from Point A to Point B with no substantiating evidence. While he claims to have interviewed Matchstick Software via email, he offers no evidence that Apple ever, at any point, insisted that the “reference book” be edited. However, he offers ample evidence that Apple advised waiting to submit until parental controls were in place. Apple simply responded to what the developer attempted to do.

Look, I agree complete that Apple’s AppStore submission process is broken and I support the conclusions Daniel Jalkut recently arrived at. There’s no doubt that serious issues exist. But Apple is free of guilt in this regard. Gruber jumped to a conclusion unsupported by the presented evidence. He started a shit storm that Apple did not deserve in this particular instance. And frankly, he should either offer the supporting evidence clearly showing that Apple requested the “reference book” be edited or apologize for jumping to that conclusion.