Commentary

SI Corners The App Market On Topless Women

SI Swimsuit IssuesThe removal of "Hottest Girls" from the iTunes App Store Thursday for containing nudity may have been a blow to soft-core porn fans and First Amendment activists, but it's not likely to upset Sports Illustrated. The Time Inc. magazine plans to launch an iPhone app version of its vaunted swimsuit edition July 7 and doesn't need any added competition from apps featuring topless women.

The annual SI swimsuit issue is a perennial best-seller and has spawned a franchise that includes the swimsuit calendar, videos, Web site, and coffee table book. In 2006 it expanded to handheld devices with the release of eight downloadable swimsuit videos through iTunes. The forthcoming app seems to be an extension of that effort but SI had provided few details as of Friday.

Word of the swimsuit app comes on the heels of the controversy that erupted Thursday over the "Hottest Girls" iPhone app, which was touted as being the first approved for sale in the App Store containing pictures of naked women. Photos of topless women were added to its collection of more than 2,200 "sexy bikini babes and lingerie models."

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Reports about the "first porno app" also turned the spotlight back on Apple's notoriously opaque approval process for iPhone apps, which led to an app from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor being initially rejected for having "objectionable content." It was accepted after he removed the offending lyrics in question. Apple previously had pulled the infamous "Baby Shaker" app after an outcry of protest.

Speculation Thursday that the company had changed its porn policy as a result of broader parental controls in the new iPhone 3.0 OS, allowing the setting of age restrictions to block mature downloads, proved short-lived after the Hottest Girls app was pulled from the App Store.

The company issued a statement via CNN, stating:

"Apple will not distribute applications that contain inappropriate content, such as pornography. The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and distributed, and after the developer had subsequently been asked to remove some offensive content. This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program. The application is no longer available on the App Store."

A site apparently run by the "Hottest Girls" developers, however, said the app was temporarily sold out and promised the "topless images" would return when it was sold again. As of Friday, the app was still unavailable in the App Store. But the SI swimsuit app will still face competition from plenty of other apps featuring scantily-clad models from "Maxim Hometown Hotties" to "Bikini Inspector." Unless Apple changes its mind about them.

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