Steve Jobs On Why The iPhone Doesn't Allow Unsigned Apps: They Don't Want A Porn Store

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Today, during a Q&A session at Apple’s iPhone 4.0 Developer preview, gdgt co-founder Ryan Block asked Steve Jobs a question many of us have wondered for years: “Are there any plans to allow unsigned applications on the iPhone?” His response:

You know, there’s a porn store for Android. You can download nothing but porn. You can download porn, your kids can download porn. That’s a place we don’t want to go – so we’re not going to go there.

The answer — that the iPhone will not allow for unsigned apps — does not come as a surprise. But Jobs’s reasoning behind it was certainly interesting to hear. Because it’s a clear example of Apple’s hypocrisy.

For years, iTunes has sold songs with explicit lyrics and movies with graphic nudity. Further, as we’ve pointed out numerous times, the iPhone comes with Safari. The web has quite a bit of porn on it. Hell, many porn sites have even launched HTML5 versions that are optimized for the iPhone. Yes, parents can disable access to Safari with parental controls, but Apple could easily add a similar parental control setting to restrict running unsigned applications, too.

The real reason that Apple won’t allow for unsigned apps? They want to maintain full control over the iPhone, in part to ensure that it’s a nice, clean environment. And also so that they can block applications from their competitors, like they’ve done to Google.

For those who were wondering, Jobs may well have been referring to Android porn store MiKandi, pictured at right (obviously NSFW).

Update: I should clarify what we mean when we refer to ‘unsigned apps’. Every application you download from the App Store is reviewed, approved, and signed by Apple. It is the only place to download an application to your iPhone, because the phone does a check for this seal of approval (unless you jailbreak it). If Apple began allowing the iPhone to run unsigned apps, the App Store could still be restricted to apps that had gone through Apple’s approval process — it would still be the ‘safe’ place to download apps.

But Apple could also allow users to install apps through other channels, like the web. Android does this, but only after displaying a warning that users could potentially download malicious applications. Apple would not be selling these unsigned applications.

We don’t expect this to happen, of course. But there’s a difference between demanding that Apple allow pornography into the App Store (which is something that I do not support) versus allowing users to go on the web to download an application that doesn’t have Apple’s approval.

Image via Phandroid

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