Schiller responds to Ninjawords debacle

You and I can rail like a beplagued Job against the unfairness of the Apple store but do we ever get emails from Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president? John Gruber does.

Gruber got an email from Schiller last night after the SVP talked through the Ninjawords debacle with the Application Approval team. As you recall Ninjawords is a dictionary app that seemed to include some saucy language and was given a 17+ rating and then banned from the App Store. However, the truth is a bit more mundane.

Schiller wrote:

The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. A quick search on easily turns up a number of offensive “urban slang” terms that you won’t find in popular dictionaries such as one that you referenced, the New Oxford American Dictionary included in Mac OS X.

The developer then whipped himself into a tizzy, deleting terms and essentially making a mountain out of a smaller mountain. Generally, the app was considered vulgar and it, in a sense, deserved its rating. In less general terms, Apple seemed to act like a faceless corporation until Schiller himself stepped forward and cleared things up. This teaches us two things.

First, we personify Apple. What do you think when you think of Apple? Steve Jobs. Maybe Justin Long. Maybe a hot girl with tattoos in a Genius Bar shirt. You don’t think of an army of nerds given a rule book and a mission – which is what the App Store approval team really is.

Second, if you whine enough someone will notice. Apple should have noticed earlier but it’s also not in their best interest to respond to us nutcases on a regular basis. However, as we all know, this is Apple’s sandbox and we’re just peeing in it. They can quite easily shut down the whole mess. But they won’t: they’re making money and you’re making money. Schiller was nice enough to reply to Gruber. Gruber’s a great guy, Schiller seems nice. But as much as we whine, this is still their world.