Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apple sorry for 'Baby Shaker' app

Apple has apologised for a "deeply offensive" iPhone application called Baby Shaker, which made a game of quieting crying babies by shaking them.

It removed the $0.99 (£0.59) game from its iTunes Store on Wednesday, two days after it went on sale.

It sparked outrage from children's groups and brain injury foundations.

The aim of the game was to quiet babies by shaking the iPhone until a pair of thick red Xs appeared over each eye of a baby drawn in black-and-white.

"This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store," Apple said in a statement.

"We sincerely apologise for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention."

But an Apple spokeswoman would not comment on why the programme - developed by a company called Sikalosoft - was approved for sale in the first place, nor how many people had downloaded it.

Campaigners' dismay

The iTunes description included the line: "See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down!"

It also included a disclaimer: "Never shake a baby."

Officials from Sikalosoft were not available for comment.

US-based organizations which seek to prevent brain injuries from Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) - including the National Centre on Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation - condemned Apple for approving the game's sale.

Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, said: "I am disheartened that with this new application Apple is encouraging frustrated adults to shake infants, not only to end their crying, but to end their lives.

"There are many effective infant soothing strategies that adults can use to calm their fussy, crying babies. Shaking is not one of them," the Daily Telegraph reported.

The outrage over Baby Shaker came as California-based Apple celebrated the one billionth download from its App Store, which was launched just nine months ago.