App Depicting Dark Side of Smartphone Production Banned From App Store

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Yesterday, an iOS app was pulled from the Apple App Store just days after its release and only hours after its official announcement.

Phone Story, billed as an "educational game about the dark side of your favorite smartphone," was banned by Apple for apparently violating their developer guidelines.

According to their website, Phone Story is a game that leads players through what they say are four "educational" scenarios that depict various problems with the proliferation of smartphones.

Phone Story is a game for smartphone devices that attempts to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform. Under the shiny surface of our electronic gadgets, behind its polished interface, hides the product of a troubling supply chain that stretches across the globe. Phone Story represents this process with four educational games that make the player symbolically complicit in coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West.

The first leg takes you into the Congo, where Phone Story says a particular mineral popular in electronic devices, Coltran, is mined by children. The app then moves on to a depiction of the worker suicides at iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, saying "many young workers at Apple's supplier factory in Shenzhen, China committed suicide. The cause? Working as long as 36 hours nonstop without overtime pay, earning poverty wages, facing humiliation by company managers and being denied independent union representation."

The third leg of the app's story is what they call "obsolescence," where they say that smartphone producers plan a device's obsolescence from the get-go to keep you buying to newest product. The final scenario deals with what they call "eWaste."

Here are some tweets from the developer regarding Apple's decision -

Phone Story was removed from the app store without explanation. 21 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

According to Apple, Phone Story violates: 15.2, 16.1, 21.1, 21.2
From the app store guidelines: 21 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Phone Story RIP (13/09/2011 - 13/09/2011) 19 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

According to the folks at Phone Story, here are the reasons that Apple gave them for pulling the app -

15.2 Apps that depict violence or abuse of children will be rejected

16.1 Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected

21.1 Apps that include the ability to make donations to recognized charitable organizations must be free

21.2 The collection of donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS

They say they will contest the last two on the grounds that donations aren't made through the app itself. The developers pledged to redirect revenues to specific charities and non-profits that deal with the issues that they espouse in their game.

Apparently, the app is still available on Android via the Android Market.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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