apple_afterOn TechCrunch, Chris Velazco has an interesting little post about iKamasutra, a Kama Sutra-based appbook that was pulled from Apple’s app store and Google Play for explicit material (which consisted of a few suggestive lines without much detail).

From my vantage point, [app developer] NBITE has complied with everything that Apple has asked of them (and more). Brown hair? Fixed. Potentially suggestive gray lines? Gone. So what exactly is Apple’s problem with the app now? Well, when Apple finally responded to the Cesur and the NBITE team, it was to say that there were too many Kama Sutra apps in the App Store.

The thing is iKamasutra has been in the App Store for years, and has racked up something like 8 million downloads in that time (Cesur tells me that it would’ve easily exceeded 9 million by now had it not been pulled). That there are plenty of Kama Sutra apps in the App Store isn’t really a question, and there are indeed plenty of lousy ones. There’s an argument to be made for good apps that happen to fall under that category though, and from my brief experience with it, iKamasutra certainly seems to be one of them.

Velazco raises the same concerns about subjectivity in the app review process that have dogged Apple’s app store for years.

And, though Velazco doesn’t mention it, this is not the first time that the Kama Sutra has caused trouble for e-book apps. In 2009 we covered Apple’s rejection of the Eucalyptus reader because it could download the Kama Sutra from Project Gutenberg. That e-reader was subsequently approved after Apple came to its senses, but it looks doubtful the same will be said of iKamaSutra.

The subjectivity of the app review process at Apple is still rather worrying. It’s one thing to reject outright porn, but what if you’re an edge case like this app? And why should there already being “too many” of a given kind of app be a criteria for rejection? But I suppose that’s just something app developers for Apple learn to live with.


  1. It is not alright to reject outright porn. You would not believe what some people consider porn and would have banned. Censorship does not work, there are no definite lines to be drawn — as hard as that is to acknowledge it is true nonetheless.

    The solution is in cataloguing correctly. What is the thing being presented to me is the question, not whether it should have been presented in the first place. And of course there are the aberrations, those things such as kiddy porn, and snuff films which should be evidence in prosecutions and not published as such. They too can be catalogued, and it would not be difficult in doing so in a way that would discourage use (ie restricted collections requiring verifiable public identification).

    Things can be managed without making any concession to censorship.

  2. The Kama Sutra is not porn. One section out of seven has lists of various sexual positions, not very detailed. The rest of the book discusses things like social situations, and social interaction with spouses and other women of various social status in a variety of social settings. I think a lot of people are disappointed when they start to read it,

  3. This is one of the rare areas where I profoundly disagree with Apple. They are taking a totally over the top nanny attitude toward their device.
    Adults are entitled to behave like adults and do so in whatever way they chose as long as it doesn’t not interfere with other people. Apple’s behaviour is patronising in the extreme.
    Adult apps should be available in a separate section of the app store and if they want to be controlling about it then they could require the phone PIN number before they launch.
    Grow up Apple.

  4. The amoral nature of the modern corporation means that these type of decisions are not generally driven by ethics or morality.

    Apple does not care about the definition of porn. The care about profits. Hence they care about quantity of paying customers. If dropping the Kama Sutra App means they lose 1,000 customers (totally hypothetical number), but keeping it means they lose 5,000, then they will drop it.

  5. Binko you really must be rather naive. The sex industry is a monumental industry and it is undeniable that if Apple allowed adult content to be sold through the app store etc they will make many hundreds of millions more in profits.
    So your suggestion that Apple is following the profits makes no sense.

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