• First China, Now Hollywood... Apple Buckles to Pressure Again

    Although no one was surprised by Apple's recent decision to pull the plug (for China's App Store, at least) on a number of applications deemed by the Chinese government to be inappropriate, many were angered by Apple's apparent eagerness to please the Chinese even if it means snubbing developers and their apps for the sake of doing business in Asia's largest mobile community.

    Now comes word that Apple is buckling yet again, but this time to Hollywood. As reported by CNET this weekend, the SuperAgent iPhone app has caught on. But some real-life Hollywood super agents aren't happy with the app and how it portrays the powers-that-be in some show biz circles.

    According to the Independent, one super agent may have enjoyed a particular interest in this app. His name is Ari Emanuel. He is the agent for so many important acting citizens such as Robert De Niro and Sacha Baron Cohen as well as directors such as Spike Lee. He is even thought to be the person upon whom the character of Ari Gold is based in the delightfully fluffy "Entourage" on HBO.
    Turns out that Ari is upset that the "less than honest" agent in the SuperAgent game is named Ari. As a result, Ari (the real-life agent) circulated a cease-and-desist letter that led to Apple promptly removing SuperAgent from the App Store.

    "The game uses the name 'Ari' for the main character, which clearly is a reference to Mr Emanuel, the co-chief executive officer of WME, one of the world's premier talent agencies," begins the forceful cease-and-desist letter. It continues as forcefully as it began: "[It] clearly intends to capitalize on using Mr Emanuel's and WME's names for the game and possibly mislead the public into thinking that Mr Emanuel and/or WME endorse the game - effectively trading off the goodwill, reputation and fame established by our clients."
    The significance of this latest snafu suggests how jumpy Apple is about applications that may offend or be "inappropriate." Is the removal of SuperAgent justifiable? Perhaps. But Apple seems far more eager to pull apps than release them in a prompt fashion. And it isn't clear if the SuperAgent game will gain admission to the App Store again once the character names are shuffled a bit.

    I feel sure that many of you will sympathize with Hanrahan's plight. His arguments appear plausible. His game, just as the "Entourage" show, seems but an amusing diversion from the pains of everyday existence. But perhaps others might consider that while saying truth to power is an often alluring concept, one should always think carefully before saying jokes to power. Power is a sensitive soul, one that isn't always comfortable with japes. Somehow, for some powerful souls, taking a joke is like Samson admitting he'd always wondered what it would like to be bald.
    For now, Oisin Hanrahan, the developer of SuperAgent, says his firm of three people now has no source of income.

    Image via AP
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