Apple pulls game critical of Apple from iTunes

Phone Story offers unflattering depiction of child labor used in manufacturing of high-tech gadgets like iPhones and iPads; game now available for Android.

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While iTunes boasts more than 425,000 different apps, the online storefront is still a closed system, with Apple making the final decision on what can or cannot be sold to its many millions of customers. A reminder of that came this week as the game Phone Story was posted to--and quickly pulled from--iTunes.

Phone Story is a mobile game that criticizes the way mobile devices are made.

According to the official site, Phone Story "is an educational game about the dark side of your favorite smart phone." The site talks about deplorable conditions at the Chinese factories that assemble the phones, child labor in Congo used to extract key metals from the Earth, and a self-perpetuating cycle of marketing hype and planned obsolescence that keeps consumers replacing their older phones and creating 25 million pounds of electronics waste annually in the process.

Developer Molleindustria said Phone Story was pulled from iTunes just hours after the game was officially announced, with Apple citing four violations that caused the game to be pulled. Two of the given rules violated by Phone Story are that apps are not allowed to "depict violence or abuse of children" or "present excessively objectionable or crude content."

The other two violations were that apps allowing users to make charitable donations must be free and that all donations be collected through a Web browser or text messaging system. Phone Story doesn't explicitly facilitate donations, but Molleindustria has said all proceeds from the game's sale will be given to independent nonprofit organizations.

Earlier today, Molleindustria launched Phone Story on the Android Market, where it sells for $1. As of press time, Apple had not returned a request for comment.

Discussion

126 comments
nomadski69
nomadski69

And Android phones are sourced and made in temples by kings on the planet Imrich. This app tells us unfortunate truths on the manufacturing of MOBILE devices, not simply APPLE devices. All those coming out with stupid comments about "thats why I wont buy Apple" are forgetting the Android phone they love has come from exactly the same places, under the same conditions. Apple produce 1 phone a year. HTC, Samsung et al come out with how many? When your taking the moral high ground on a subject people, make sure the ground isn't made out of hypocritical BS.

Solamon
Solamon

@Kleeyook: Yeah, you're right. But that's the catch-22 about jobs like that. One one hand, they need the job. At least they are able to support their families and make a living wage, which is a lot better that a bunch of people in some parts of the world. But one the other hand, the jobs are terrible and exploitative. We need to remember that over here in the Western world there was a time in our past when we were industrializing that our industries weren't much better.

vadicta
vadicta

This is an important game that deserves to exist. It's one of few with a message and a point, and I'm glad it still has a market, and doesn't use its subject matter as a cheap joke.

rasputin177
rasputin177

@kleeyook I know. Sadly the jobs are actually better then other options but that does not mean Apple could not try to improve the conditions.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

But is everything really Apple's fault!? At least they still have jobs to do, even if the jobs are horrible. I wish there'd be an industry that let people work by doing healthy activities. :(

rasputin177
rasputin177

So apple has a problem with games that "depict violence or abuse of children" but has no problem with the real life violence and abuse of children that occurs to make their phones? Makes sense.

rasputin177
rasputin177

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

twister_nt
twister_nt

to be fair, apple is an evil cult.

maxwell97
maxwell97

@vannacut: I hate to say it, but you're probably right. @PseudoElite: It's not censorship, at least not in the meaningful sense of the word. Censorship is when ideas are prevented from being distributed, which obviously hasn't happened here, since we all know about it. What Apple did is refuse to help distribute an idea, which is not censorship.

vannacut
vannacut

guys the situation in africa is different than the one in china, china is prosper now,most of them have better lives than yours, live in better conditions, north america living conditions: rent a room, rent a basement, pay a lot for a tiny apartment, stupid townhouses... they rely on production not on derivative economy like in usa ...

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@PseudoElite You'll find that worldwide. Wherever there's money to be lost, the truth will likely be obfuscated, to varying degrees.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

Money always wins, sad truth.

PseudoElite
PseudoElite

Censorship of the truth at its best in Corporate America.

Qv9
Qv9

that picture is such a shocking portrayal of african children. those kids don't look hungry!!!!

SolarConception
SolarConception

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ziproy
ziproy

@cubone285 Oh hai cubone!!! Good bye freedom of speech

alexandredgr
alexandredgr

@Spahettificator: Although I do not disagree with everything you said, you've got a quite distorted version of reality. I agree with you that it wrong to use child labor, although you forget the point, the company isn't directly involved here. Yes they buy it off some terrorist criminal scum but they aren't the only one. Look I don't like apple because they treat their customers as complete idiots. Therefore, I got absolutely no reason to defend them, but I can't blame them for buying some cheaper material before someone else does it. We live in a capitalist-based economy. They have the right. If you want somebody to do something about child labor, write a complaint to the U.N. hoping they will actually listen. It's their responsibility, not the responsibility of the corporations. Also, if they have no money and no infrastructure, who do you think who would risk a investment to build a refinery there?

Slash_out
Slash_out

lol to reddash. Apple producrs are better because of the price?So if make a stick, draw buttons on it, and sell it for 3000$ it is better than an iphone? Not to mention you say "they will last for more than 4 years". I purchased (because I was stupid) an ipad. 2 months later, apple announce Ipad2 and now the ipad still being recent, the ipad 3 is already coming. Apple make good devices, but they take us for fools and they close their devices way too much. The futur are devices running systems like androids that are open. Do not purchase apple...

cjf187x
cjf187x

Hilarious! I lived in China for 3 years after college, and the sad thing is that employees in these Apple factories will commit suicide, because Apple gives a large payout (for poor Chinese laborers). Yeah I hear the conditions are amazing too.

rbereczki
rbereczki

Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm sorry, just had to laugh when I read this post below mine that claims Apple products are better because they're more expensive. I guess some people still don't understand the maximizing profit paradigm of business. Apple's strategy, especially, is to give a lot less for a lot more. Case in point: iPad and iPad2. More expensive, less features than the competition. Macintosh computers use same hardware as PC. Granted, the OS is probably better than MS Windows.

TheRedDash
TheRedDash

ok? Still love my iphone 4 lol better than android phones that are pumped out into the hands of fools for free cause they know that it will break and shut down in 2 months. The more you pay the better quality. Apples products are expensive but they will last more than 4 yrs.

oflow
oflow

Stories like this are the reason I dont support corps like Apple or Nike. These huge self-righteous companies sell a branding image that is totally opposite of a lot of their true practices in the background. People hate Microsoft, but Bill Gates is actually a pretty big philanthropist, while Apple is doing everything they can to try and gain more control over the internet like not licensing their OS to other hardware companies, trying to make a new web language and not using flash which basically forces you to use only their products. While it might be nice for the people that can afford Apple products, the bulk of the people in the developing world cant afford Apple products, which ironically are produced thru slave/child labor in these same developing countries.

fillup0
fillup0

What's wrong with an ordinary phone? Texts and calls are all you need.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

@Spahettificator You're completely wrong a lot of those things that they sell in china are highly sold here in the U.S If WE the US go DOWN so will these children. They'll be doing something a lot worse for money since cell phones won't sell on a dying economy. I'm not saying we're doing something good for them...... ofcourse not... the people that allow this are which are the ones who buy stuff from them and the ones that make them do it and have most of the blame. But you have to understand it's not just the U.S it's the whole world economy that's in bad shape. Now the few people that hold most of the worlds money have so much money that they can't spend enough to distribute the money among common people and they wont raise the wages of their employees to help the economy out so in the near future you can expect a world wide French Revolution

FamousCalibur
FamousCalibur

@fel1693 hold on now.apple has never gave hype, only the consumers constantly speculations and rumors centering a high quality device. apple doesn't state what the device looks like or its features. all the hype comes from consumers, apple didin't do a thing to promote itself in such a way, people are just amped on what the new iphone, ipad, or ipod will be.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Infinity_Gauntl If the parents were paid a fair wage to begin with then their children wouldn't need to work. But no, that would cut into the already massive profits of global corporations so you can't have that. Just wait, with the way the US economy is going you'll eventually be the ones doing the labour jobs for minimum pay whilst the Chinese sit back and buy 4 iPhones every month :P

tidusjeff
tidusjeff

@DrKill09 "Ha. I never said I liked Microsoft. Windows 7 rules, but I hate them as a company," "That said, I hate Apple more. They make more gimmicky garbage than Nintendo." You hate microsoft as a company but you think windows 7 rules? You state that apple makes gimmicky products but you hate them more then microsoft, and nintendo has been following a business strategy where they release handheld revisions that apple has done as well. Lite, DSI, XL, 3DS anyone? Personally your statement sounds pretty hypocritical.

fel1693
fel1693

"and a self-perpetuating cycle of marketing hype and planned obsolescence that keeps consumers replacing their older phones and creating 25 million pounds of electronics waste annually in the process" I rarely comment anywhere but amen to that, people should be smarter.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

@Spahettificator I'm tired of arguing with you. I was talking about Child labor as a generality to begin with, not related to warlords or the goings on in the Congo. So in OTHER parts of the world child labor is acceptable and the only resource some have so that thier families don't starve. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If your SOO passionate about the situation then why are you on a gaming website or even gaming at all. Please by all means go there..try to make a difference. Some people do rather than complaining on a web site doing no one any good. ....Now I'll get back to my cushy life and probably buy another phone when the next model comes out, or a new console for my upstairs livining room.

mustained13
mustained13

@Spahettificator Not trolling, just telling how it is. Nice try, though.

N-K0d3R
N-K0d3R

Just bought the game. It's very short, but feels somehow like a documentary that urges you to think 'do you really need this phone' ? It's a series of minigames involving the darker aspect of phone productions (one of them has you holding up a net to save jumping suiciders from hitting the concrete). Try it, one buck ain't all that much after what you payed for your smartphone

hush404
hush404

AND that is why I love my android based phone.

Ex-DarkBlade
Ex-DarkBlade

There should be game where you are CEO of Apple and get to sue other companies for stupid reasons.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Infinity_Gauntl Your argument that children have to work or their families will starve and that there is no alternative is false. If the wealth was cut off from the warlords running the mines then they would be unable to purchase the weapons they use to maintain their control. This would allow the UN to force these murderers out and maintain control of the mines with Peacekeepers until the Congolese military is strong enough to maintain control on it's own. After their expulsion the Congo would be able to set up real trade and even refining facilities as it is the refined tantalum, not the coltan ore, that creates profit. This would allow the Congo to recover from the poverty which it has suffered since the US backed dictatorship of Mobutu overthrew the democratically elected Lumumba in the 1960s

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Infinity_Gauntl It's not a shift in manufacturing (though that would be good as well) it is a shift in their supplier of Tantalum to a conflict free supply. If you go into a jewellers you do not expect to buy your wife an engagement ring with a conflict diamond in it so why should expect conflict tantalum to be in your phone when there are alternatives? Yes working in a mine is hazardous. It is a part of the nature of the job. In a mine run by miners or a government you can expect some safety precautions, however. A large majority of the mines in the Congo are run by terrorist militant factions, selling Coltan to buy weapons to continue the war which has already become the second most deadly. Surely this must mean that any companies who buy Tantalum which has come from these mines are actively supporting terrorism and funding people who are guilty of gross human rights violations?

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

@Spahettificator Oh and as far as your comparison of Apple and HTC...Its wrong. That might work if you were looking at things from a fixed profit/loss standpoint but you would have to use an adjusted profit model. To move ones manufactoring and oprerating plants is a tremendous effort and extremly costly. Its easy to sit at your desk with no comprehension of the matter at hand and say "oh yeah the could afford to loose 20%" The move itself could potentially cost apple millions if not billions. ----From your viewpoints I would have to say that you don't have a heavy base in formal education and life experiance. Don't worry you'll learn in time.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

@Spahettificator First off working in a mine is hazardous no matter what age you are. Mens bodies stop developing when thier epiphyseal bone plates have completely sealed between the ages of 18 and 20 but that won't help you from the effects of minning ----------------------- Listen I'm not some uneducated fool. I have 2 degrees and 2 minors..One in which is finance. I have traveled to many parts of the world and visited factories in which child labor is used. In many of those regions if the child doesn't work his family can't survive. They wouldn't have enough money to feed themselves. So what would your answer be ...not let them work? let them starve? Have the Europeans and the United States provide free food for them so they wouldn't have to work. Fact of the matter is that, is how the world operates...There is not enough natural resources for everyone to live like us. Plain and Simple.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@i_like_pie223 iPhones have a profit margin of around 56% for Apple. HTC has a 31.7% profit margin from the Android. Apple could easily increase the manufacturing costs without drastically reducing it's ability to profit. Like you said, it is pure greed.

Merex760
Merex760

Meh, Game Dev Story is better.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Infinity_Gauntl 5) How is hypocritical to argue with someone who apparently sees nothing wrong with the exploitation of children to increase the profits of global corporations? Coltan is available from other countries who do not use child labour, such as Australia and Canada. Sony doesn't use Tantalum which comes from the Congo so why should Apple?

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Infinity_Gauntl 1) I am from the United Kingdom, we don't have fox news. We have the BBC, the most respected news organisation in the world. 2) I would consider 18 to be the absolute minimum age at which someone should be able to get work in a mine. Any younger and they risk damaging their bodies due to the nature of the work and the fact that their bodies are still developing. 3) Standards of living? The Congo has no real standards. It has been embroiled in a war since the 90s which is the second most deadly conflict in human history (casualties estimated between 3.8 and 7.8 million). Its infrastructure is non-existent and the eastern part of the country is rife with atrocities committed by the multiple factions fighting for control of the mineral wealth. In this kind of environment not be under threat of rape and death is the first standard of living which must be achieved. 4) There would be no point in one person throwing away their technology, it would have to be part of a world wide general strike against the continued exploitation of these conditions of warfare by global corporations. I also have not bought a console since the Xbox 360 first came out, only replaced my phone last month after owning it for around 6 years and only replaced it then because it's battery had completely died and got my TV second hand from a family member who had bought a new one. My laptop is 3 years old and I have no current plans to replace it as it runs fine.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

@Spahettificator First off Mr. Fox News I was talking about labor jobs and I in no way would claim a child soldier is a job. That was a huge moronic twist on your part. What would you consider an appropriate age? Why should we allow our beliefs about how old you should be to effect another country. How old is to young? 14, 12 , 9??? How much should you pay everyone in the world in order for people to be on an equal footing?? What standard of living is appropriate (Condo, House, Appartment)?? ____Now if you were so gun ho about this you wouldn't be playing your video games . Your computer, console, and TV are all apart of the problem but I don't see you giving away all of these items you don't need because they are made in terrible conditions but you will go onto a game website and "chat" about how terrible it is...typical hypocrite.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@Gelugon_baat To exploit a touchy issue is to make money from it. Charities like Save The Children advertise on TV with adverts which show or tell what kind of abuse children suffer. By your definition these adverts are also exploiting a touchy issue by getting people to donate money to charity.

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

I always love how when it comes to lifting bans on Cuban goods its because of human rights blah blah blah but we can always trade with China who tortures and kills people who disagree with the government. But I guess China has more to offer US businesses than Cuba.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]