New ‘Explicit’ Apple App Store Categories or April Fool’s Joke?

CUPERTINO, Calif.—Something strange happened at the iTunes Store last week, or did it? No one at Apple is talking, but the fear is that someone at the great company may have lost their job after discovered links to heretofore unknown pages for “explicit” categories in the store.

Apple, of course, unceremoniously purged over 5,000 sex-related apps from the iTunes Store in February, but rumors have been circulating ever since that the Cupertino-based company was merely engaged in a strategic retreat while surreptitiously preparing to fight the good (i.e. sex) app fight another day.

Interestingly—because it would imply that Apple was delaying the launch of “explicit” categories until after April 3—MacStories snatched screen grabs of both iPhone- and iPad-specific app categories.

While there is speculation that the pages may have been a nearly-April Fools joke, it makes little sense for the company to go to the trouble of making the pages only to pull them prior to April 1, and it seems equally unlikely that a bored Apple staffer did it on his or her own. It is more likely that the company intends to roll out the new categories in the not-too-far future, but then it will have to deal with even more ire from developers and companies who saw their business models decimated in the wake of the earlier purge.

Either way, Apple is behaving strangely, as if it is inherently immune from public opinion of any sort and/or feels the successful rollout of the iPad has insulated it from negative publicity.

This writer’s personal opinion, based on nothing but gut instinct, is that the kind folk at Apple know full well that their latest device is essentially “made for porn,” and that they will ultimately have no choice but to control—as much as they are able—the availability of sexually oriented applications made for it. Nothing else makes as much sense, since the release of the iPad ushers in the ultimate “walled garden” environment.