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Apple apologizes for Baby Shaker app [UPDATED]

April 23, 2009 |  2:22 pm
Apple App Store
Apple, which hit 1 billion downloads from its App Store today, apologized for letting one app, Baby Shaker, slip through. Credit: Apple.

Apple today issued an apology for the controversial Baby Shaker app sold through its iTunes App Store.

Created by Sikalosoft, a third-party developer, Baby Shaker displayed a cartoon of a crying baby that can only be silenced by violently shaking the iPhone. It drew condemnation from child advocacy groups, including the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

In response, Apple pulled the app Wednesday morning and issued an apology today:

This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store. When we learned of this mistake, the app was removed immediately. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and thank our customers for bringing this to our attention.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the app, which sold for 99 cents, became available for downloading Monday. The Cupertino, Calif., company vets hundreds of new apps a day from independent developers for its App Store, which now features more than 35,000 applications.

Updated 4:32 p.m.: The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation is not satisfied with Apple's mea culpa. Late this afternoon, the New York foundation issued a statement demanding that an apology come directly from Randall Stephenson, AT&T Inc.'s chief executive, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is currently on medical leave until the end of June. AT&T has the exclusive contract with Apple to sell the iPhones on which apps such as Baby Shaker can be downloaded and used.

In a letter to Apple's and AT&T's boards, the advocacy group's founder, Patrick B. Donohue, said:

Apple displayed extreme recklessness in launching this application and the results were immediate and disturbing.... Go online and read the anonymous blog comments making fun of shaking a baby. The harm your organizations have caused in making light of harming and killing babies is enormous!

In an interview, foundation spokeswoman Jennipher Dickens said: "It was a completely generic apology. Speaking as a mother of a son who was shaken, it was not enough at all."

-- Alex Pham