Earlier today, Molleindustria’s new app, Phone Story, briefly hit the App Store. By all accounts, it was a Game Dev Story like simulation of Foxconn’s own iPhone manufacturing facilities… and a politically damning one at that.
Guess what happened next? That’s right: Apple yanked the sweatshop sim faster than a plummeting factory assembly line worker.
Here was Phone Story’s official description:
Phone Story is a game for smartphone devices that attempts to provoke a critical reflection on its own technological platform. Under the shiny surface of our electronic gadgets, behind its polished interface, hides the product of a troubling supply chain that stretches across the globe. Phone Story represents this process with four educational games that make the player symbolically complicit in coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West.
Keep Phone Story on your device as a reminder of your impact. All of the revenues raised go directly to workers’ organizations and other non-profits that are working to stop the horrors represented in the game.
Needless to say, the app is no longer on the App Store, and Apple is apparently being mum about why the app was pulled.
We’ve got to admit, though, we’re a little uncomfortable with Apple banning this game based on its description. It doesn’t sound as if the title explicitly criticized Apple’s iPhone manufacturing process, just the state of the smartphone manufacturing industry in total. And by stamping down on an app that was raising money for groups striving to protect the human rights of the people putting together our gadgets — including our iPhones and iPads — Apple has seemingly opened itself up to a lot of criticism about its commitment to its own ethical guidelines.