May 1, 2014 Last Updated 7:42 am

Apple’s porn business grows with the help of Russian ‘publishers’

The App Store is now a conduit for video content as well as “girly” magazines as group of developers (or the same one) look to cash in

For months Apple has been approving magazine apps from Russian developers that clearly violate developer guidelines. These apps, which promote the name of one magazine, once installed, give the read access to magazines under other names. Apple knows about this because I have had numerous conversations with Apple employees about the issue – in the developer support department and with the press team. Each time I heard only that they would look into it. But the apps remain, and new ones are being approved.

My issue has always been that Apple shouldn’t allow deceptive practices because they will only serve to discourage readers from trusting the efforts of other publishers. This undermines the efforts of all magazine and newspaper publishers. My assumption was always that the magazines in question must be what one would call soft core porn – like that seen in many motorcycle magazines: suggestive pictures rather than full nudity. I hesitated to download any of the magazines because I naively believed that it couldn’t possibly be true that these digital magazines deliver what they promise to.

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But they do.

The latest magazine apps Apple has approved come from a new developer account, Irina Korochkina, who has released two apps: Vanilla pleasure and BoxofSweets. Despite the different names, the apps are actually identical once opened.

Looking through old posts I’ve written on this issue, the first mention of these kinds of apps dates to December of 2012 when I said the “The Wild West days of the Apple App Store return”. The apps in question were from Sergey Rudnev for magazines with odd names like Magazine ‘Father’ and Magazine ‘Gun’ and Magazine ‘Pick Up’.

The reader reviews are also odd: some give the app five-star reviews while others warn readers to stay away.”Stop Thief: Should have a minus (-) rating for dishonesty and Apple should pull it before somebody else gets ripped off. Wonder how big the corp’s share is?”

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Shortly after these apps appeared came apps from Dimitry Nikolin. The formula looked the same: release a couple apps that appeared benign, then release two magazine apps. One of the first apps released was for Mary Kay products! Then came Magazine “Oh! Yeah!” and Oh! Yeah! Black.

The magazine apps from both developer accounts caught my attention as they appeared to be far more “adult” than what Steve Jobs had allowed when he was alive. But, of course, he was no longer alive. Had Apple changed its policies, I asked representatives?

In the case of both developers, what they were selling within the app was simply magazines. But in September of last year TNM wrote for the first time about the apps from ANASTASIYA RUDNEVA. These were something else altogether.

In a series of four apps, all released at once, the developer was offering what appeared to be different digital magazines, but were in fact the same app when opened. Each opened to a page where the reader could access the Oh! Yeah! magazines, plus video content. The post that appeared said “Has Apple decided that sex sells? Not likely, Russian developer plays games with their apps to skirt the app review team” – and I mentioned that I had contacted Apple (I wish I had mentioned that in the other posts but really didn’t want to incur the wrath of Apple). But now I was telling two departments at Apple and not getting anywhere. Why was the App Store team approving these apps, and why, after being told what was going on was Apple keeping them in the store? A month later I wrote about the apps again, comparing what was seen in iTunes with what the reader actually gets once the app is downloaded.

Balloons-BoxNow comes the new apps from a fourth Russian (presumably) developer, and these apps seem to believe they have nothing to hide anymore, brazenly advertising their wares: “Sexy girls photos and video. Watch and enjoy…” the app description says.

The app description for the new apps from Irina Korochkina, also includes a line found in the apps from ANASTASIYA RUDNEVA: “The magazine will have a wonderful time.” (sic)

The way these newer apps work, the reader buys “Coins” from within the app. The reader buys a few hundred of these “coins” and then can buy the video and magazine content within the app. Rather than a magazine costing $2.99, for instance, it costs 100 coins, videos cost 20 coins. The reader gets credit by buying 5000 at a time for $39.99, or a smaller amount for $9.99. Apple, of course, facilitates the transaction and gets its 30 percent.

To accuse Apple of now being in the porn business (though not hard core) might seem unfair. But what makes it completely legitimate, in my opinion, is two factors: Apple’s developer and press teams have known about these apps for a long time now (and this site has written about them five times now); and because of the in-app purchase scheme used here, Apple is making money off the apps and presumably paying the developers for their sales.

Once again I have contacted the Apple press team, and again Apple’s press team has not responded.

Note: I have checked both the Google Play store and Amazon.com have not seen these digital magazine apps in those stores.

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