It's Apple's App Store, and the company can reject any app it wants. That doesn't make it suck any less when the app they reject is mine.
Last year, my friend Megan and I created a comedy website called The Snuggie Sutra. It's exactly what it sounds like. More specifically, it's a parody, a humorous imagination of comedically pitched sexual positions, all of them involving a blanket with sleeves. The illustrated pseudo-guide employs Megan's hilarious drawings of cartoon figures, with all their naughty bits covered by hand-drawn Snuggies.
After scoring mentions on radio shows across the country — not to mention The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, the Huffington Post, New York Magazine, and Time — publishers came calling.
This past September, St. Martin's Press published the book version of The Snuggie Sutra. In fact, the book is available in the iBookstore — along with the Kindle bookstore, all the major online booksellers, and fine brick and mortar bookstores everywhere. And Urban Outfitters, because, you know.
The book has since been discussed on TV shows like Chelsea Lately and The Today Show, sites like AOL and Yahoo!, and still more radio stations across the country, many of whose DJs make unfunny jokes about the Sham-Wow.
I enlisted the services of developer Marco Tabini to build a custom Snuggie Sutra app for the iPad. The app showcases unique, web-only positions, along with a few that appear in the book itself. You can page through the positions, and share them with friends via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Marco and I decided — out of an abundance of caution — to hold back on developing the more challenging but even more fun phase two of the app: letting you create your own Snuggie Sutra positions.
Unfortunately, our abundance of caution was seemingly well-placed. Per Apple's email to me:
We've reviewed your application, however, we cannot post this version to the App Store because we are no longer accepting this type of app, as indicated in the preamble to the App Store Review Guidelines https://developer.apple.com/appstore/resources/approval/guidelines.html:
We don't need any more Kamasutra apps.
To its credit, Apple offered me the option to appeal my rejection. Which I did:
Our book is a consistent Amazon top-seller in humor, parody, and (cough) sex categories. We add new positions to the website — the ones that show up in the app — every week. I challenge the assertion that an app full of Snuggie sex positions is truly "another kama sutra app," since its focus is humor, and not prurience. Similarly, I think the app provides lasting entertainment value with its frequent updates featuring new positions.
I am happy to discuss this further at your convenience.
Early Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from Apple. "This is Steve," the caller didn't say. The kindly App Store representative whom I did speak with reiterated that "this kind" of app was no longer accepted.
Pressed to explain which "kind" of app she meant, the woman told me again that Apple didn't want any more "kama sutra apps" in the App Store.
I maintain that while we bill ourselves as "The Kama Sutra — With Snuggies," this app is not "another Kama Sutra app." Rather, The Snuggie Sutra is a humor app. It's meant to amuse, and not to titillate. This app isn't a how-to guide; it's jokes.
I have filed one final appeal with Apple, pleading my case. The Snuggie Sutra is not "another Kama Sutra app" — it's something else entirely.