Apple pulls Nine Inch Nails iphone app - However will Trent Reznor respond to censorship by the Man??
May 3, 2009 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Maybe Apple had never actually listened to the song Closer before approving the Nine Inch Nails iphone app, but Trent Reznor Twitted today that Apple pulled the NIN application from the store due to objectionable content. The objectionable content referenced is "The Downward Spiral."

Reznor chatted with digg.com last month and talked about the iphone app's release. Though he has developed a business model for NIN that doesn't include a record label, he still needs distribution portals for their music. NIN fans will go to their website to download music and apps anyway, but the itunes store has a chance to turn new listeners on. However will Trent respond??
posted by njbradburn (104 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Your favorite band sucks is unsuitable for iTunes.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:42 AM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


However will Trent respond??

"So, how do you keep from gettin' herpes and a kid and stuff?"
"I guess by not givin' a shit!"
posted by danb at 7:46 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Goofy. Music and movies in the store already have [OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT] or [MATURE] labels (complete with Parental Controls integration). This has to be coming for applications too, sooner or later.

Which might be good... or not. The idea of wading through thousands of junky and/or sleazy "Adult" apps isn't a happy one for me.
posted by rokusan at 7:47 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want [snuggle] you like a [kitty-cat]!
posted by Artw at 8:13 AM on May 3, 2009 [24 favorites]


the whole existence of the iphone app store is flawed.
posted by the aloha at 8:13 AM on May 3, 2009 [26 favorites]


Is this something you have to like crap music to understand?
Is this something you have to have an iPhone to understand?
posted by scruss at 8:16 AM on May 3, 2009


I want to fuck metafilter like an animal.
posted by chunking express at 8:19 AM on May 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


he couldn't believe how easy it was
he put the words into the text box
post!
(so many typos for such an idle thought)

all problems have solutions
a hive mind of experience acting as reference in the green

everything's blue
on this site
the most meta shade of blue
all fuzzy
spilling out of my keyboard
posted by the aloha at 8:23 AM on May 3, 2009 [15 favorites]


scruss: I don't know whether you have either an appreciation for Nine Inch Nails or an iPhone, but I do think it would behoove you to grok the concept that there are gatekeepers standing between you and artists whose work you like. And to also grok that these gatekeepers can, upon their whim, declare your artist's work unfit for public consumption and effectively block them from distributing their work or you from being able to find their work. At all.

Where you stand on either the band or technology being discussed here should not matter when looking toward the larger issues.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 AM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


Is this something you have to like crap music to understand? ...says someone with Robyn Hitchcock as their number one last.fm artist. Rofl.

In any case, this is probably the work of some lower-level staffer at Apple; get a few complaints, hear the track in question, automatically punch the eject button. I would expect the app to be back online before you can say "unbridled Internet rage".
posted by mark242 at 8:27 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post leaves me in the dark. Can we get some screen shots or an idea of what this app does? Without hitting Google, I'm guessing this is like the Presidents of the USA's iPhone app, where you can stream the artists' discography?
posted by porn in the woods at 8:28 AM on May 3, 2009


Last I heard, Trent Reznor was the "Man." In the establishment sense.
posted by Eideteker at 8:29 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


porn in the woods: Trent and Rob discuss the iPhone app
posted by hippybear at 8:32 AM on May 3, 2009


I want to grok you like an animal.
posted by The Deej at 8:33 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I do think it would behoove you to grok the concept that there are gatekeepers standing between you and artists whose work you like

Since I don't use an iPhone, there aren't.
posted by grouse at 8:35 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


2050 - trent reznor wants to fuck you like a vegetable
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Since I don't use an iPhone, there aren't.

Just keep telling yourself that. It all feels better if you say it often enough.
posted by hippybear at 8:36 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just keep telling yourself that. It all feels better if you say it often enough.

It can't possibly feel as good as unsupported adolescent cynicism.
posted by grouse at 8:43 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I want a duck shaped like a triangle...you give a toaster to Bob.

I like "Twitted".
posted by biscotti at 8:44 AM on May 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


I dunno. To some extent, yes, this is an iPhone users' issue, and that's okay.

Apple's got a really irritating need to control how people use their products. That's a pain in the ass if you're an Apple customer, and this story is one more reason why their customers shouldn't put up with that shit.

That alone makes it worth talking about. We have posts all the time about individual companies doing dumb, irritating or self-defeating shit. It doesn't need to be a MASSIVE WORLDWIDE CONSPIRACY AGAINST TRENT REZNOR to be FPP-worthy.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:46 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a close and personal friend of Trent's, I'd like to let you guys know he would have a response to this news, but he's unfortunately tied up with a new build of Quake that somebody sent him online that includes 3 new levels!

Call back in two years when he cares again.
posted by Bageena at 8:50 AM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Like My Parents In 1994, Apple Finds NIN’s The Downward Spiral Objectionable

pretty good article about the bigger picture here, but more amusing is the authors' dad responds in the thread.
posted by Mach5 at 8:54 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Last I heard, Trent Reznor was the "Man." In the establishment sense.

Good point, he's certainly a poster child of Direct To Consumer music establishment. In that digg interview he does talk about sharing his model or his platform to other artists to allow them to get music out directly. But he says he wouldn't take any money out of those transactions...
posted by njbradburn at 8:54 AM on May 3, 2009


Stupid video game magazines are predicting the iPhone will surpass Nintendo in handheld gaming, citing the fact that 1,000,000,000 apps have been downloaded from the download store.. Never mind that 900,000,000 of those apps are cheap crap like, "put the ball in the hole", "make the iPhone look a beer and drink it", "super tip calculator 5000" or "find the best korean massage place".
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:56 AM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


"And to also grok that these gatekeepers can, upon their whim, declare your artist's work unfit for public consumption and effectively block them from distributing their work or you from being able to find their work. At all."

Well if you don't have gatekeepers of some sort you get unfiltered, no killfile, no moderated groups Usenet.
posted by Mitheral at 8:56 AM on May 3, 2009


Well if you don't have gatekeepers of some sort you get unfiltered, no killfile, no moderated groups Usenet.

Are you referring to the "download shit here" version of the Usenet? I wonder where all that shit to download came from before it was put online for download...

I am not blind to all the unsigned, non-distributed content which is available online for download with the only gatekeeper being the ability to post something online. However, most of the content in the culture in which we find ourselves immersed got to us via a conduit where there were many hurdles to cross before release. At every step of the way, someone had to greenlight the artistic expression before it could move toward public release.

Perhaps over time this model will change sufficiently that we will find our filtering being done for us post-release. In the meantime, we get to deal with silly situations like this one. (Made even sillier by the apparent contradictions in the same content being carried via the same conduit and not rejected.)
posted by hippybear at 9:05 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are Apple consumers listening to NiN? How do they sharpen the rounded corners on their iPhones so they can cut flesh?
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


There are Apple consumers listening to NiN? How do they sharpen the rounded corners on their iPhones so they can cut flesh?

I'm a BlackBerry girl, myself. Thorns tearing flesh... ;>
posted by njbradburn at 9:16 AM on May 3, 2009


News flash: walled garden platforms are bad for consumers and artists.
posted by Nelson at 9:20 AM on May 3, 2009


There are Apple consumers listening to NiN? How do they sharpen the rounded corners on their iPhones so they can cut flesh?

The inside edges of a Macbook Air's lower half are surprisingly sharp - I'm pretty sure I could draw blood from my own wrists with them without too much effort.

What's that? You don't own a Macbook Air? Oh. Well in that case, you're not really an Apple consumer, are you?
posted by Ryvar at 9:21 AM on May 3, 2009


I could be wrong, but I think some clarification is needed. The first version of the app is available, but update has been rejected due to an album reference. At least, that's what the Slashdot post implies, and I seem to be able to view the app (no iPhone / iPod Touch to try it on).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 AM on May 3, 2009


Well if you don't have gatekeepers of some sort you get unfiltered speech.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:35 AM on May 3, 2009


Well if you don't have gatekeepers of some sort you get unfiltered speech.
oh noes! we, as a society can't handle that! what about the children?

News flash: walled garden platforms are bad for consumers and artists.
yet, great for publishers.
posted by the aloha at 9:43 AM on May 3, 2009


"...but Trent Reznor said today that Apple..."


Please. From now on...
posted by Zambrano at 9:44 AM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


In that digg interview he does talk about sharing his model or his platform to other artists to allow them to get music out directly.

What, Reznor won't distribute my home-made Techno, but just wants to distribute artists he cares about?

Gatekeeping bastard.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:46 AM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Are you referring to the 'download shit here' version of the Usenet? I wonder where all that shit to download came from before it was put online for download..."

No I'm referring to the fire hose of unfiltered content (whatever it's source) that one gets from a full Usenet feed and how it relates to a system without gatekeepers. Without someone acting as gatekeeper any moderately popular service is going to get swamped in crap. As a vector to promote content it'll be essentially useless because even if you're the greatest band ever posting a track or two to unfiltered distribution isn't going to get you noticed. The Beatles could post a new video to YouTube anonymously and the chances of anyone actually seeing it is nil without some kind of promotion irregardless of how awesome it might be.

The point is any decent system for promotion of new, unknown artists is going to have some kind of gatekeeper even if it's only the local bar manager or radio DJ. People aren't always going to see eye-to-eye with the gatekeeper or there wouldn't be any need for a gatekeeper.
posted by Mitheral at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2009


The programmers of the NIN iPhone app and nin.com website have done a pretty interesting (and rather geeky) Google Tech Talk which is available on YouTube.

Especially interesting if you are interested in how the integration with the Google Earth plugin and such is done.
posted by hippybear at 9:55 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mithral: I believe you and I are in agreement here. The difference is where the gatekeepers are located along the production stream. You refer to post-release gatekeeping (promotion) of artists. The situation we find here (albeit in a convoluted form) is one where the material isn't released and therefore will never be promoted. [Please, I know what is going on, don't take me to task for oversimplifying or misstating this instance.]

I would MUCH rather have a post-release promotion-based form of gatekeeping than a pre-release (effective) censoring of an artist's catalog.
posted by hippybear at 10:01 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Andrew Keen would agree with some of these arguments.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:17 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know it's going to be tough for them to make a PC seem clunky and dull and their products seem hip and edgy when every time I hear "Hello, I'm a Mac" I'm going to be thinking, "and my IPod is full to brimming with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:31 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to Twit you like an animal.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:40 AM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just nearly ruptured myself laughing about the triangular duck. I'll never be able to listen to that song again without breaking into hysteria!
posted by supermedusa at 10:43 AM on May 3, 2009


Stupid video game magazines are predicting the iPhone will surpass Nintendo in handheld gaming, citing the fact that 1,000,000,000 apps have been downloaded from the download store.. Never mind that 900,000,000 of those apps are cheap crap like, "put the ball in the hole", "make the iPhone look a beer and drink it", "super tip calculator 5000" or "find the best korean massage place".

Look I can't afford an iphone, but just because there's a lot of chaff doesn't mean there isn't some unmitigated awesome on the platform.
posted by juv3nal at 10:52 AM on May 3, 2009


Should this FPP really start "maybe Trent reznor has never heard about the extremely well known proclivities of the iphone app store"?
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah I think this is stupid too, but you have to admit our puritan society is also to blame.

One pointless scandal over a retarded "baby-shaker" app, no doubt involving threatened lawsuits, and Apple is afraid to touch anything remotely adult. Surprise, surprise.
posted by fungible at 11:26 AM on May 3, 2009


hippybear: "I do think it would behoove you to grok the concept that there are gatekeepers standing between you and artists whose work you like. And to also grok that these gatekeepers can, upon their whim, declare your artist's work unfit for public consumption and effectively block them from distributing their work or you from being able to find their work."

Only if you're buying through the gatekeeper -- the price is probably much better than a pile of CDs, but you can do whatever you want with the CDs. If you're looking for concepts to understand, you could start with benefits of the physical artifact as opposed to the censorious and ephemeral nature of the digital.
posted by boo_radley at 11:33 AM on May 3, 2009


You can get the same music at the iTunes store that was censored by the app store. I'm not sure why there would be a different standard.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:39 AM on May 3, 2009


Stupid video game magazines are predicting the iPhone will surpass Nintendo in handheld gaming, citing the fact that 1,000,000,000 apps have been downloaded from the download store.. Never mind that 900,000,000 of those apps are cheap crap like, "put the ball in the hole", "make the iPhone look a beer and drink it", "super tip calculator 5000" or "find the best korean massage place".
posted by ChickenringNYC


There's a lot of crap in the store no doubt. There's also amazing apps that sell for 99 cents. If you listen to others and do just the smallest amount of research, it's not difficult to separate the two.

If you don't know how to find them, or maybe have never tried, you write what you just wrote.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2009


One pointless scandal over a retarded "baby-shaker" app, no doubt involving threatened lawsuits, and Apple is afraid to touch anything remotely adult. Surprise, surprise.

Hey, they brought it on themselves. If you force every damn idiotic thing people might want on their phones to be installed through your store, you wind up looking responsible for every damn idiotic thing that people want on their phones.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:46 AM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: Only if you're buying through the gatekeeper -- the price is probably much better than a pile of CDs, but you can do whatever you want with the CDs.

Fully agreed there, and believe me, I have a LOT of physical product and favor it above digital purchases with every choice I make.

However, this isn't about whether you have a physical CD in your hands or not. It is about whether those standing between you and the artist have the right to decide whether those CDs get produced in the first place.

In this case, it is about whether a free (no money required to download) application should link to content which is also freely available (music videos posted by the creater of the content which can be viewed at their website) which may or may not be considered "adult" because of lyrical and imagery content (the word "fuck" referring to the sex act, and images of monkeys tied to crosses), when that content is also available through a separate yet parallel content stream via the same content provider.

There is no purchase of music involved here, there is no downloading of material (the music video in question is available for streaming)... This isn't about purchaser's rights to remix at will, it is about USER's rights to even view the content in question.

Again, gatekeeper, upstream from release... bad idea.
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2009


You know it's going to be tough for them to make a PC seem clunky and dull and their products seem hip and edgy when every time I hear "Hello, I'm a Mac" I'm going to be thinking, "and my IPod is full to brimming with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees."

I'm not really qualified as a taste arbiter, but I've got a suspicion that 70's camp might well be hipper and edgier than 90's goth.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:03 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Stupid video game magazines are predicting the iPhone will surpass Nintendo in handheld gaming, citing the fact that 1,000,000,000 apps have been downloaded from the download store.. Never mind that 900,000,000 of those apps are cheap crap ...

Nevermind that there's a term coined to concisely describe the quality of most games receiving the Nintendo Seal of Approval. Quality or its absence doesn't mitigate sales numbers. The iTunes Store has been a resounding success more likely because of Apple's UI design, delivery method, and above all the few high-quality products which sell considerably more than the tawdry crap.

The volume disparity is most likely to be due to the quantity of free software available for the iPhone. But whether the iPhone counts as a real gaming platform by your terms, or the games are real games by your terms because they're good or not, it's hard to get around the fact that Apple is selling a lot of them, enough to threaten the popularity of handheld consoles, and that the downloads store business model is widespread now. There's Steam, the Nintendo Wii store accessible from within the Wii, Blackberry AppWorld, Google Android Market, and the coming Microsoft Mobile app store. Add to this the download stores that most of the cellphone companies run, all of which predate the iTunes App Store. I remember browsing AT&T's three or four years ago and being appalled by the low quality and high prices of unchallenging things like ringtones and screen wallpaper.

Some of these systems are exclusive (iTunes, Wii Store, phone company stores for non-smartphones), some are sandboxes with low walls (Android Market), and some of them exist to complement existing distribution channels (Steam), but some of them have already found themselves in the controversial position of pulling popular apps, and the tug of war over market control isn't going to end any time soon. Apple will continue to have the highest profile and therefore continue to draw the most analysis, criticism and praise.
posted by ardgedee at 12:08 PM on May 3, 2009


What responsibility, then, do we have as consumers when we purchase the content platform? Isn't there an implicit support of the gatekeeper when we willingly pass through his gate?
posted by boo_radley at 12:10 PM on May 3, 2009


Like I said in a previous post, Apple's closed app ecosystem is going to cause it to lose it the phone wars. It may not look like it from the current usage stats, but Google's hands-off approach to their marketplace (and development) will win out.

The gatekeeper doesn't need to remove access to objectionable content to provide a good user experience. Just providing excellent search, browsing and recommendation services. Each user can even have a personalized view of the marketplace based on their interests/preferences.
posted by formless at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2009


Based on that link from ardgedee, maybe the Android marketplace isn't as open as I hoped.
posted by formless at 12:14 PM on May 3, 2009


[And what's even better about this... I just checked my own statements, and NIN does only has the censored of "Closer" available on their website. I don't know if this is a new thing in response to Apple's nonsense, or if they never posted the "fuck / crucified monkey" version of "Closer" on their website at all.]


So, what is Apple upset about? All of the content of The Downward Spiral? That's a pretty bold anti-artist statement to make, IMHO. (Especially since Trent has been an Apple apologist, nay, evangelist for many, many years.)
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


No I'm referring to the fire hose of unfiltered content (whatever it's source) that one gets from a full Usenet feed and how it relates to a system without gatekeepers. Without someone acting as gatekeeper any moderately popular service is going to get swamped in crap.

With Usenet, you can still see the unmoderated groups if you want. With email, you can choose your email provider and if you run your own you can choose lots of different anti-spam products. If you don't like moderators on some website, you can go somewhere else -- on your PC. And of course you can download any applications you want on your PC.

But, if you're using an iPhone, you only have one option for that gatekeeper, Apple. If you don't like it, you'd have to buy another product: Except because of the way the cellular market works, you're basically fucked: You can't download apps on any cellphone without going through some gatekeeper, at least that was the case.

If you have an T-Mobile G1 (which I do!) you can install applications on it via USB, and if you get a G1 Developer Phone you can actually swap out the entire Operating system, just like a PC, and you're the "root" user on the phone, meaning you can compile and install Linux programs out of the box, if you like that kind of thing. That's probably extreme for most people.

The G1 Dev phone is the first 'truly' open cellphone that you can actually buy.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 PM on May 3, 2009


There is no purchase of music involved here, there is no downloading of material (the music video in question is available for streaming)... This isn't about purchaser's rights to remix at will, it is about USER's rights to even view the content in question.

Unless Apple's blacklisting URLs on mobile Safari and/or restricting media that can be moved on to a given device, viewing/listening rights don't really seem to be the most relevant point of discussion. The App Store is certainly a good place to get attention at the moment, but outside of that benefit it's a bit of a puzzler to see people using it to push content, particularly when there's no gatekeeper issue anywhere else for Apple devices and considering that Apple's near capriciousness as an app gatekeeper is pretty common knowledge.

This isn't to say that I don't find the gatekeeping annoying -- as a developer, I certainly do. But as a user, the issue falls waaaay down on my list, a good ways below crippled bluetooth, tethering issues, and missing background processes which have kept the crop of softphones from being useful for taking inbound calls. And content restrictions have been a complete non-issue.

Apple's closed app ecosystem is going to cause it to lose it the phone wars.

I suppose this is a possibility, but I wouldn't bet on it. Apple doesn't have to let every app in existence through its gate, it just has to be a good enough gatekeeper that the apps people want most are there. If their preferences and process end up screening something people won't do without, then they will be threatened, but I'm not sure I've seen an example of this yet. Plus there's the fact that jailbreaking really is pretty easy -- if you really want something that's App Store Verboten but available elsewhere, and hour of your time will get it for you.

The whole thing's probably annoying to Trent, but the guy's gotta know by now that this kind of event will probably give him free PR and some degree of increased cred because he's fighting The Man, and he's still got plenty of ways to push his content onto an iPhone.
posted by weston at 12:38 PM on May 3, 2009


viewing/listening rights don't really seem to be the most relevant point of discussion

Well, yes. And the main point of the iPhone app really isn't the viewable videos or lyrics or audio or whatever... it's the "nearby" feature, which allows mobile-only contribution to a message stream which is sorted by proximity to the viewer. Everything else available via the app is available via the nin.com website, although not in the native grooviness of the iPhone app. But the "nearby" feature allows contribution via the mobile devices only.

Maybe where Trent & Co went wrong was in trying to bundle ALL that functionality into one app, but it certainly makes the most sense to have all that content delivered through one portal instead of many.

(And it is cool to have a "conversation" which includes those within a certain mile-radius from your location. I can't wait to see how this works during the tour when fans are congregating.)
posted by hippybear at 12:46 PM on May 3, 2009


it's the "nearby" feature, which allows mobile-only contribution to a message stream which is sorted by proximity to the viewer.

I agree location aware features are pretty cool and will probably become increasingly required in order to meet the minimum floor of coolness. And I sure wish that Apple would make that available through mobile safari (there are real privacy issues associated with that, but being able to manage that the same way you manage cookies would probably take care of it).

Maybe where Trent & Co went wrong was in trying to bundle ALL that functionality into one app

I think so. Just providing a link to your website might do the job. The portal concept is a powerful one, so I can see that point of view, but even there, just embed an instance of UIWebView in some part of your app, if you want. The native grooviness of the iPhone is nice, but somewhat overrated in my humble opinion as a long time web geek.
posted by weston at 12:58 PM on May 3, 2009


apple fans: your god is dead and no one cares

Ah, The Downward Spiral and high school memories. Good stuff.
posted by salvia at 12:58 PM on May 3, 2009


there are real privacy issues associated with that, but being able to manage that the same way you manage cookies would probably take care of it

Yes. the NIN app does this by allowing you to set your location as "fuzzy", which will offset your location to someplace within ~1 mile of your real location.

posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on May 3, 2009


offset your location to someplace within ~1 mile of your real location.

so, in other words, not really closer at all.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on May 3, 2009


apple fans: your god is dead and no one cares

Except, apparently you. Who cared enough to post this.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well if you don't have gatekeepers of some sort you get unfiltered, no killfile, no moderated groups Usenet.
Um, what? That's a pretty dishonest analogy. Moderators are gatekeepers, yes— but filters and killfiles are not; they're under my control.

Really, I think the mechanisms that we use for the rest of our world would work perfectly well for phone app sales. Anyone can put up a webpage, for example, and as a result there are endless oceans of crap out there— but that's not a problem; I don't have any trouble visiting Metafilter, even without some capricious Jobsian God-King of the Internet deciding who's in and who's out.
The G1 Dev phone is the first 'truly' open cellphone that you can actually buy.
The Openmoko Freerunner is more open and I think it predates the G1, but although I like their approach and want them to succeed, it's not a very good phone. :/
posted by hattifattener at 2:33 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of a walled garden there's something important that's really been overlooked:

For the iPhone's target market a gatekeeper is a feature not a bug.

We've been down the JavaME road of cellphone carrier stores and illegitimate russian download sites for cellphone games, we've put up with Windows Mobile and its lackluster and fragmented developer base and we've now arrived at the iPhone with a walled garden app store.

For someone who's been using phones with some form of user loaded programs for the past 8 years it's a real breath of fresh air. I get one place to buy my apps with a mobile suitable interface while on the road. All my updates get handled through the same place and I don't have to hand out my credit card to every dodgy developer over the net. There's also the intangible benefit of a practical platform to host 99 cent apps (try doing that as an independent dev and see just how little you make) as well as lowering the barrier to entry for small devs who just want a check sent to them once a month.

The app store isn't perfect but it's the least shit way of doing mobile apps this far IMHO.
posted by Talez at 3:03 PM on May 3, 2009


Except, apparently you. Who cared enough to post this.

Ooooh, that really burns. Ouch.

No, actually I just went back and read the NIN lyrics and thought a bunch were kind of funny (or not) in relation to this story, and there were a few other possibilities that were maybe better, but the lyrics were less obvious in the songs.
posted by salvia at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2009


Head like a hole
Black as your soul!
I'd rather die,
Than give you control!

...except, you know, if it means gaining access to a platform with sizeable hipster market penetration and, y'know, shit like that...
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Acrtually I wouldn't completely agree with Talez in that the App Store is hugely better than other ways of doing the same thing, but it does roughly suck at the same level and in most of the same ways.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on May 3, 2009


Man, NIN's song don't age well. It's just obvious pandering angsty crap. Reznor probably enjoys yachting.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:36 PM on May 3, 2009


Maybe one day he'll cheer up a bit.
posted by Artw at 5:39 PM on May 3, 2009


iphone sux, apple sux, AT&T and other network providers sux...

oh you want to know why? Because they insist on crippling technology, they believe their pricing and business model doesn't work without it. Sell me the damn hardware and let me worry about how/what I use it for.

Yeah, the app store is a great way to reduce the number of hackers cracking, because they get paid to dev for your platform, but with crippled bluetooth and wifi, and network locking someone still will - ipodlinux ffs - just because they can.

What exactly is the point of a network lock? The network have a contract, you pay it. Contract expires and b/c the service has been so poor you move to another network ... there is a better way to keep you as a customer than tying you with 18mth old tech.

Meanwhile, the networks have had location based data forever and have never monetised it and it is only with embedded GPS that the customer is getting access to the information and geo based stuff is gaining traction - what on earth have they been doing? Chatting to their buddies on the board of Lehmans?

sorry rant over - just don't get me started on taxes
posted by fistynuts at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2009


Man, NIN's song don't age well. It's just obvious pandering angsty crap.

NIN songs crack me up now. There's something funny and gleeful in them. "If there is a HELLLL, I'll SEE... YOU... THERE." Tee hee!
posted by salvia at 5:58 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Trent just posted a more lengthy response about Apple's pulling of the app.

In a nutshell, he makes a good point (that many here have already made) that the "censoring of adult content" is spurious at best, making it difficult to adhere to. Further, he makes the point that the portal (in this case, the NIN app) that one might be able to pull in "naughty stuff" with doesn't mean said portal is a bad thing or naughty in and of itself.
posted by revmitcz at 6:17 PM on May 3, 2009


The programmers of the NIN iPhone app and nin.com website have done a pretty interesting (and rather geeky) Google Tech Talk which is available on YouTube.

Especially interesting if you are interested in how the integration with the Google Earth plugin and such is done.


Those guys completely reminded me of these guys: "WE control the fans!"
posted by pwnguin at 6:27 PM on May 3, 2009


Man, NIN's song don't age well. It's just obvious pandering angsty crap.

I sometimes feel embarrassed for Reznor. The guy's gotta be at least in his 40s by now, and he's still coming up with angsty songs that would be cringeworthy if penned by a 15yo. Surely, it must be time to grow up a bit, already?

Then I realise that he's probably sitting back happily on his yacht, cynically raking in the millions with his cryogenic one-trick pony, whereupon I end up feeling more embarrassed for his fans.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:29 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Further, he makes the point that the portal (in this case, the NIN app) that one might be able to pull in "naughty stuff" with doesn't mean said portal is a bad thing or naughty in and of itself.
There's an app called Craigsphone that does a nice job of presenting Craigslist in an iPhone-friendly format, but because of App store restrictions, it censors "naughty" words and doesn't allow display of pictures in the personals section. Which, um, my friend finds annoying.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2009


Wouldn't Palm count as having the first open cell phone ? I never had one of their phones, but their PDAs were open from day one.
posted by rfs at 8:06 PM on May 3, 2009


...also, it's "tweeted", ftr.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:12 PM on May 3, 2009


I have no interest in helping out Metafilter's hard-on about hating Apple and people who use Apple products, but as far as NIN goes, I bought tickets to see Reznor play at The Tower in Philadelphia back in 1993. I got my tix through a guy on alt.music.nin. I was so psyched to see Reznor — dude, high school — but I never got the tickets. Or so I thought. At first, I was steamed about getting ripped off through Usenet, until I found out my folks conveniently "lost" the envelope containing my chance to see my favorite fishnet-tighted industrial band.

Still bitter with them about that one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good to know there's someone somewhere who, in this day and age, can still be shocked and offended by Trent Reznor. Good for him!

I was worried he was going to have to start going door to door like Marilyn Manson.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:06 AM on May 4, 2009


Reznor probably enjoys yachting.

No. It's worse. Much worse.

Star Trek *sob*
posted by shelleycat at 1:24 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


the whole existence of the iphone app store is flawed.

The app store is freaking awesome, minor annoyances like this notwithstanding. To be standing in an elevator thinking "I wonder if there's some way to translate morse code (or whatever) with my phone" to finding, installing and using the application in 30 seconds is amazing. I've been doing it for almost a year and it's still amazing to me.

I don't love that Apple moderates apps, philosophically, but I also know that I can install them fearlessly because of that, which leads to sample hundreds more apps than I would ever touch if it was the sort of crapshoot that PC (or Mac) freeware is. I don't want to need AVG-for-iPhone scanning everything.

Moderation can be useful. It's all over MetaFilter, and this doesn't feel quite like a totalitarian, idea-squashing state to me.
posted by rokusan at 4:58 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


What exactly is the point of a network lock?

It's how you get AT&T to agree to subsidize 80% of the phone's cost. That's it.

You must realize that Apple would happily sell an $800 piece of hardware. It's not like Apple, of all companies, is afraid of a high sticker price.

Apple needed carrier support for the risky iPhone launch to be successful. They might not need it next time. At minimum, they have a whole lot more leverage now.
posted by rokusan at 5:01 AM on May 4, 2009


...also, it's "tweeted", ftr. Thanks, tapesonthefloor. And Zambrano. I know. "Too cutesy" in my dismissal of Twitter culture. Won't happen again. ;>
posted by njbradburn at 5:34 AM on May 4, 2009


Is this something you have to like crap music to understand?
Is this something you have to have an iPhone to understand?


No. One just needs a basic level of education to understand it.
posted by juiceCake at 5:45 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't Palm count as having the first open cell phone ? I never had one of their phones, but their PDAs were open from day one.

I owned Palms. I worked on several software development projects for PalmOS. It was painful and annoying.

Programming for iPhone is about seventy-bajillion times easier, better, and less stressful.
posted by rokusan at 8:36 AM on May 4, 2009


> It's how you get AT&T to agree to subsidize 80% of the phone's cost.

AT&T makes that money back; the subsidy is more like a low-interest loan with installments incorporated into your monthly service bill.

I doubt AT&T or any major carrier is interested in an unmoderated applications store when those applications risk subverting, sabotaging or working around the carrier's own services. It's a matter of preventing people from getting for free what AT&T would make money on and limiting the potential for harming quality of service -- if for no other reason than to reduce the number of customer support calls.

For example, banning Skype from the iPhone is anticompetitive -- AT&T certainly would prefer to collect the premium for all international calls placed on their phones -- but restricting Skype to wifi-only access hypothetically makes sense in preventing data traffic bottlenecks over their data networks.
posted by ardgedee at 1:00 PM on May 4, 2009


I sometimes feel embarrassed for Reznor. The guy's gotta be at least in his 40s by now, and he's still coming up with angsty songs that would be cringeworthy if penned by a 15yo. Surely, it must be time to grow up a bit, already?

Then I realise that he's probably sitting back happily on his yacht, cynically raking in the millions with his cryogenic one-trick pony, whereupon I end up feeling more embarrassed for his fans.



No. It's worse. Much worse.

Star Trek *sob*


These days he's posing for the paparazzis at the Star Trek premiere, with his fiancée, Mariqueen Maandig. He's 44, she's 22, singer and Playboy model. Aren't they a cute couple?

Also: “I can hear the thumping low end of Britney Spears," Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, prepping for his own tour, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s been a treat having them here the whole time we’ve been here.”
posted by iviken at 2:29 PM on May 4, 2009


I have no interest in helping out Metafilter's hard-on about hating Apple and people who use Apple products

Heh. That's vaguely ridiculous.

Oh hi Blazecock Pileon.
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on May 4, 2009


What hurts the most is that NIN used to be my absolute favorite band and Trent was the God that watched over me angstily (or so I imagined) while I cried myself to sleep. I had every 'halo' (true fans will know what I mean) and most of the bootlegs. At one time, I had actually bought and paid for over 50 NIN cds (pre-pirate days for me). After the Fragile however, something happened. He started to suck and I started to stop feeling sorry for myself at the time. The disconnect happened so fast and so hard that I've never turned back. I went from being a regular poster on PI, a message board dedicated to the band, to, well... posting here. There was about 5 years in between, thank god. Or else you'd be in for some real sad panda shit coming from me all the time.
posted by Bageena at 4:33 PM on May 4, 2009


You could always try and recapture the old spirit by listening to Joy Division or something.
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on May 4, 2009


“I can hear the thumping low end of Britney Spears," Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor [...] told the Sydney Morning Herald.

I really don't want to think of the sound of Trent thumping Britney's low end.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2009


He probably listens to Phil Collins whilst chilling out in his spare time, like Ice T.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on May 4, 2009


AT&T makes that money back; the subsidy is more like a low-interest loan with installments incorporated into your monthly service bill.

Yes, but that's AT&T (or any carrier, it seems) that should be getting the scorn, then, not anything special about iPhones or Apple. It's the way mobile providers've done business for two decades now. It's hardly Apple's fault they couldn't force them to change the whole model overnight. But I suspect that they're doing it slowly. Now that there's no reasonable way for a carrier to claim they don't WANT the iPhone, I expect Apple will begin moving to selling unlocked, no-commitment iPhones soon at a higher price. They're just not in as weak a position as they were two years ago when everyone considered it high-risk, overpriced, and possibly doomed to failure.

I doubt AT&T or any major carrier is interested in an unmoderated applications store when those applications risk subverting, sabotaging or working around the carrier's own services

I have Skype and a few free-SMS applications on my iPhone. These "subvert or work around" carrier services. So it's not exactly forbidden.

A moderated store is a good thing, but there is much give and take as to what kind of moderation is best, how firmly, and so on. What Apple has stumbled with is a lack of transparency in what moderation they apply. It's been too much of a guessing game as to what will be allowed and what will not. They need to open up their terms and communications channels, not their technology.
posted by rokusan at 3:05 AM on May 5, 2009


These days he's posing for the paparazzis at the Star Trek premiere, with his fiancée, Mariqueen Maandig.

And with that one statement is ruined what I thought to be the biggest closet couple of all time -- Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan. Damnit. Now I have to go back and relisten to everything he ever recorded and deprogram the same-sex messages I'd been reading into them all these years.

Oh, no. Wait. This is just a sham, a ploy. Trent + Rob = Forever. It's like when Mick wrote that song about Angela, but it was really all about David.

*whew*
posted by hippybear at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2009


You know he was boning Tori Amos at one point, right?
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on May 5, 2009


Artw: shhhhhh. you're disturbing my carefully constructed reality.
posted by hippybear at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2009


There's an app called Craigsphone that does a nice job of presenting Craigslist in an iPhone-friendly format, but because of App store restrictions, it censors "naughty" words and doesn't allow display of pictures in the personals section. Which, um, my friend finds annoying

And again, I think: why would you use an app for this? Mobile Safari isn't blacklisting any area of Craigslist. The site design adapts itself to an iPhone display well enough, particularly once you've picked whichever location and section you'd like to be browsing. You could certainly improve the experience before that point, but what you need is a custom style sheet, not an entirely new application.

It's like we're back before 1995 and everybody still wants to create a custom client for network services again, and Cocoa Touch is the new Powerbuilder/Delphi.
posted by weston at 3:36 PM on May 5, 2009


One odd thing is that they've got any number of apps featuring guns and shooting, but they freak right out over anything to do with edged weapons (witness the recent dumping of a Doctorow comic featuring an ork getting decapitated).
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on May 5, 2009


witness the recent dumping wonderemptying of a Doctorow comic
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no interest in helping out Metafilter's hard-on about hating Apple and people who use Apple products

Heh. That's vaguely ridiculous.


I'd say entirely and hilariously ridiculous. Such a comedian.
posted by juiceCake at 8:01 PM on May 5, 2009


And again, I think: why would you use an app for this? Mobile Safari isn't blacklisting any area of Craigslist. The site design adapts itself to an iPhone display well enough, particularly once you've picked whichever location and section you'd like to be browsing. You could certainly improve the experience before that point, but what you need is a custom style sheet, not an entirely new application.

And if there was a convenient way for me to apply a custom style sheet, I (er, my friend) might do so. Same for metafilter, which is frankly really annoying to read on the iphone.... you can have tiny text, or constant horizontal scrolling. Not user friendly. I don't see much downside to using an app that improves my user experience.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:36 PM on May 6, 2009


Apple gets out of the Parental Guidance business [from /.]

That was some great NIN buzz generated by Apple's silly and contradictory rejection of apps, and well-timed with the announcement of Trent's engagement. Hmmm...what was that comment above about Trent actually being The Man??
posted by njbradburn at 5:51 AM on May 7, 2009


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