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.


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.
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.

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