Apple withholding promo codes for 17+ iPhone apps

Company will no longer provide developers of iPhone apps rated 17+ with promotional codes, a feature developers had used to market their offerings.

Jim Dalrymple Special to CNET News
Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.
Jim Dalrymple
2 min read

Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away.


That's the way some developers are feeling after Apple began refusing to give developers promo codes for iPhone applications rated 17+.

Apple allows its iPhone developers to request up to 50 promotional codes for their apps when they are uploaded to the App Store. The promo codes allow developers to do things like market their apps by providing codes to media outlets, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

The codes were welcomed by developers, who were forced to build separate ad-hoc versions of their apps in order to give versions away. Even with the Apple imposed four-week time limit, the promo codes served a very important purpose.

With the release of iPhone OS 3.0, Apple implemented a rating system for apps it sells in the App Store. This allows users to adjust their parental controls on the iPhone, restricting the use and ability to download objectionable content.

You may think that objectionable content in an iPhone app would be limited to pornography, but it's not. Under the new rules, any application that contains a built-in Web browser are also rated 17+ because they have access to the Internet.

As Ars Technica points out, some apps on the store like Wobble iBoobs is not rated, and the classic first person shooter, Doom, is rated 12+. However, e-book reader Eucalyptus is rated 17+ because you can search the Internet and access the Kama Sutra.

Apple defines the 17+ rating as:

Applications in this category may also contain frequent and intense offensive language; frequent and intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence; and frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; plus sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17.

Obviously, Apple still has some work to do to satisfy developers.