Steve Jobs: the iPad offers "freedom from porn"

May 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

A little background first. Ryan Tate from Gawker.com recently got into a heated e-mail exchange with Steve Jobs, chairman and CEO of Apple.Inc. Within this back and forth between the two, Ryan criticised the iPad for having too many restrictions for it to be described as a revolutionary device, which Steve and co. are currently advertising it as. Jobs responded back with this:

Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom.

So, obviously Jobs holds a rather perverse definition of the word “freedom”, because freedom is about having choice, even if it’s the freedom to make the wrong one. The iPad doesn’t really offer you that, because Apple (Jobs) imposes its own standards on what content it feels is appropriate for the app store. It’s bizarre, Apple hasn’t been about freedom, openness and choice for a long time; what they are about is offering a sleek, trouble-free, accessible user experience, which is fine.

The curious thing about Jobs – partly what I admire about him and what, maybe, makes him such a great designer – is that he is unrelenting in his vision, and it is personal, to him. While Apple making money off the pornography industry probably doesn’t do a great deal for the company’s image, I have a feeling this has more to do with Job’s view on pornography itself. He doesn’t like it; he doesn’t want it on his product. And fair enough. It’s his company and the iPad is his invention, so he can do pretty much whatever he wants with it. If people don’t like it, then they shouldn’t buy his products, as he himself mentions in one of his e-mails.

What interests me is why he never uses this as a positive. A lot of people don’t like pornography and would sooner have it banned. Instead of this clearly untrue bullshit about freedom, what he could be doing is emphasising the moral argument behind his business decision to not have pornographic apps on the iPad. Strangely, it’s what many consumers expect from large businesses, but that which they rarely receive: corporate social responsibility.

To me, an industry that profiteers off the sexual exploitation of men and women cannot be one that is beneficial to society, because it is centred upon the debasement of human beings. There is an argument to be had here, and it is complicated, with no simple answer. Steve Jobs is an excellent position to get the ball rolling. To make a stand like this based on moral principle, rather than cold economics, would garner him and Apple a significant bulk of goodwill – and ultimately additional sales, too.

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You are currently reading Steve Jobs: the iPad offers "freedom from porn" at Mark Raymond's Blog!: The Official Blog of the Forthcoming Blog.

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