Apple Bans Game Supporting Foxconn Workers’ Rights From The App Store



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.

[via RazorianFly]

  • Jon Bradley

    “…faster than a plummeting assembly line worker”
    Low brow.

  • joewaylo

    I saw the theme for Phone Story. It’s all against Apple (hint: Apple logo) and their parts suppliers. Apple saw the logo and got mad right away.

  • prof_peabody

    This is BS.  It’s not surprising that Apple pulled an app that’s entire reason for existence is to criticise the platform on which it runs.  It’s not “politically damning” it’s just *political* and anyone who owns a store has the right to refuse to put political propaganda of any kind on it’s shelves if it so desires.  

    This doesn’t call anything about Apple’s ethical guidelines into question, nor say anything about it’s commitment to transparency, open-ness etc. As noted by commenters already, it’s a violation to use the logo and that could actually be the whole reason for it’s being pulled (although it’s totally to be expected that it would be pulled anyway).

  • iDaBoss

    aw man, i wanted to try it out

  • FriarNurgle


  • WVMikeP

    Look at the screenshot.  It has an apple logo that is likely not authorized by Apple.  That, right there, should be enough.

  • Jonathan Dale Swindle

    The unapproved use of the Apple logo is their reasoning, I’m sure.

  • timborama

    Wow, never saw that coming. :p

  • dale2000

    I’d bet you’re right, and I don’t think Apple’d be technically or ethically wrong in doing so.  Technically they’re right, because it’s a rule of theirs.  Ethically, I’d say they’re right, too, because the app is using a logo (probably) without permission, which opens the matter up to the possibilities of Defamation.

    It’s interesting, because the description of the app only mentioned “your favorite phone,” and if they’d left it there, I think they’d have been clean.  By using Apple’s logo, they removed that element of doubt.

    One last thing… John Brownlee did not catch the logo he posted, as you can tell from this quote from the article: “It doesn’t sound as if the title explicitly criticized Apple’s iPhone manufacturing process.”

  • duende

    It’s funny… in a sick kind of way

  • likethepear

    Don’t shit where you eat.

  • MiralSimon

    woooow that’s incredibly unbelievable I just got a $829.99 iPad2 for only $103.37 and my mom got a $1499.99 HDTV for only $251.92, they are both coming with USPS tomorrow. I would be an idiot to ever pay full retail prices at places like Walmart or Bestbuy. I sold a 37″ HDTV to my boss for $600 that I only paid $78.24 for. I use

  • Evan Benford

    Walked into Best Buy to see them selling a magazine about how best buy is such a terrible company and how they rip off all their workers…yea id say it would stick around

  • Figurative

    “…Apple yanked the sweatshop sim faster than a plummeting factory assembly line worker.”
    ???  Not cool.

  • Tania Huiny

    i am curious about apple app approval process. if they were going to ban it why do it after the fact? shouldn’t they would have just reject it during app submission.

  • CharliK

    It’s possible that someone just hit the wrong button. 

    As for the rejection, we don’t know that they did it based on the description, on the use of private APIs or something else. 

    But I wouldn’t be surprise if it was at least in part due to their practice of not speaking ill about their partners. seems rather clear that the app is taking about Foxconn which is a major factory for many companies, Apple included

  • CharliK

    Yep authorized use of Apple trademarks is cause for rejection/removal