Apple halts App Store promo codes for apps rated 17+

Following the recent introduction of the iPhone OS 3.0 update and its enhanced parental controls, Apple will no longer distribute promotional codes to developers whose iPhone and iPod touch applications meet the criteria for a mature rating. In the past, developers who uploaded a new version of their software to the App Store were given an opportunity to create up to 50 promo codes to give out for various marketing purposes--media reviews, contest giveaways, and so forth. But with applications now broken down into four age categories (4+, 9+, 12+ and 17+), The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that Apple has removed the promo code functionality for apps rated 17+, presumably to prevent children from downloading potentially objectionable content.

Apple defines apps rated 17+ as software that "may also contain frequent and intense offensive language; frequent and intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence; and frequent and intense mature, horror, and suggestive themes; plus sexual content, nudity, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs which may not be suitable for children under the age of 17." However, iTunes applications that feature an embedded web browser or provide access to third party content also automatically require the 17+ rating, regardless of the app's content or intended audience. That means iPhone apps like Twitter clients, web browsers, IM clients, ebook readers and Flickr clients may likely end up earning the 17+ badge as well--without promo codes, it will become that much harder for developers to market their applications, effectively limiting their revenue opportunities.

For more on the promo code controversy:
- read this Unofficial Apple Weblog article

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