Rating: But the system itself could be open to abuse
A very laudable initiative from the US-based wireless industry body – the CTIA has persuaded key North American mobile network operators to sign up to a new app vetting scheme. Actually it’s not very new because it is merely the mobile version of a ratings scheme operated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) . That body claims to already be the de facto ratings group for the majority of video games. It now wants to turn its attention to creating ’parent-friendly’ ratings for mobile apps – and games are the obvious worry here. The big snag is that neither Apple or Google has signed up to the scheme. GoMo News reckons that leaves a loophole for unscrupulous marketers. The organisations have agreed to use the ratings for applications that are sold from the devices they sell include: – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and, significantly, Microsoft.
So, in effect, the Windows Phone Market Place would be the only mobile OS related app store taking part in the scheme. Which could lead to an interesting scam.
GoMo News reckons that cunning marketer could ensure that the W7 Mango version of the company’s game got a pretty high rating. Let’s say ‘Mature’ or even ‘Adult Only’.
This would encourage youngster to see if they could get their hands on the game.
The big sales, however, would be for Android and iOS which would need to pass entirely different criteria to be sold on the iTunes App Store or the Android Market.
So a game would appear to be quite adult when the majority of sales of the game weren’t built to the ESRB specs.
Given that Windows Phone owners are probably more mature than those who buy games for Android or iOS, the difference probably wouldn’t affect actual sales of the W7 Mango version.
Typically Apple refused to comment. However, Google spokesman, Christopher Katsaros, told Bloomberg here, ”We’ve put a lot of effort into Android Market’s rating system, which now works well globally.
While we support other systems, we think it’s best for Android users and developers to stick with Android’s existing ratings.”
Significantly, developers submitting mobile applications will have to answer online questions including whether the app includes violence and sexual content, contains social networking features and permits sharing of user location data.
The CTIA said in a statement that once the questionnaire is completed, the app will receive its rating within seconds.
Um, how safe is that?