2 Comments

Summary:

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board intends to apply its familiar game-rating stamps to mobile apps, providing a way for parents to monitor and restrict the games and content their kids download. Five mobile operators and Microsoft have signed on but Apple and Google are missing.

KId smartphone

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) intends to apply the age-rating icons now familiar on PC and console games to mobile apps, providing a way for parents to monitor and restrict the games and content their kids download. Five mobile operators and Microsoft have signed on to the new system, but more notable are the players missing: Apple and Google.

Apple and Google’s iTunes App Store and Android Market are responsible for the lion’s share of all app downloads to smartphones and tablets. While both provide controls in their storefronts that allow parents to restrict downloads based on age cutoffs, maturity appropriate levels, or by type of media, they both depend primarily on their developers to provide the context for those ratings. The benefit of the ESRB ratings would be an independent review from an organization parents already trust.

“Parents are overwhelming aware of our ratings, and use them when buying games,” ESRB President Patricia Vance said, speaking Tuesday at a CTIA press conference announcing the new ratings system.

Vance said the ERSB’s review system also takes into account new presence, content sharing and personalization capabilities in mobile software that don’t readily apply to console games. Most parents aren’t just worried about their kids downloading porn or violent games; they’re also terrified Internet predators will take advantage of social media to locate their kids or proposition them through social media.

Once an ESRB rating is granted, developers can carry it across any mobile platform. If a developer doesn’t like the rating granted, it can challenge it. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, as well as Microsoft, have all agreed to use the ratings in their mobile storefronts. But the carrier portals account for relatively few downloads in the grand scheme of mobile data. The action is in the platform app stores, so without Apple, and Google (RIM isn’t participating either), ESRB would have relatively little impact. A developer might even look at the ESRB ratings as one more reason to ignore the operators’ stores completely.

Apple and Google have both been invited to participate, but so far they’re content to use the controls they have in place, ESRB officials said. One of the reasons Apple and Google may be on the sidelines for now is the apparent limitations of ESRB’s system. There are hundreds of thousands of mobile apps, and ESRB admits it can’t review all of them. Instead it relies on developers to fill out a detailed questionnaire when submitting an app to any store using the ratings system. An automated engine than instantly spits out a rating, which is applied to that app henceforth. ESRB will directly review the most popular mobile apps and will closely monitor consumer complaints about particular apps. But essentially much of the system is self-policing, just like iTunes and Android Market.

The issue of patrolling app stores is only going to become more important as more kids get online wirelessly. PBS Kids recently conducted a survey of parents with children between two and 10 and found 38 percent of them were passing down older mobile devices to their kids. Another 30 percent felt at least a quarter of the apps of their smartphones and tablets were educational or entertainment apps for their kids.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jenny downing

  1. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/G918kpDb

    Share
  2. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/1qabmEH0

    Share
  3. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/Y1PjKX05

    Share
  4. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/ViBNDZfH

    Share
  5. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/BXaKkhO5 @amarchugg #news

    Share
  6. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/NTqib5Kd @amarchugg #news

    Share
  7. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/mMrEohhM

    Share
  8. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/IVYSM2sb

    Share
  9. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/Fa0ou10K

    Share
  10. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/TfJg3Sae

    Share
  11. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/YEP2wmKr

    Share
  12. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/fJLM5yD2

    Share
  13. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/Njt5W375

    Share
  14. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/xmPsqxGO

    Share
  15. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/EGKgcB5R

    Share
  16. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/9ajw3C5m

    Share
  17. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/uJ53HLNO

    Share
  18. RT @gigaom: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/VpoPIfBO

    Share
  19. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/HzDdqoES

    Share
  20. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/Si0rzkVQ

    Share
  21. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system — Tech News and Analysis http://t.co/xEXpRgzn

    Share
  22. gigaom: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/NZWXareA

    Share
  23. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software… http://t.co/leNrHQ0z

    Share
  24. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/P4kmYVWY

    Share
  25. Read and share “Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system” http://t.co/yC0hAcBd

    Share
  26. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/Vrobvnps

    Share
  27. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/YIyQZ2jB

    Share
  28. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/jUzme0gK

    Share
  29. GigaOm: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – http://t.co/Bx2PXWeb via http://t.co/JeOcAnUn

    Share
  30. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: 29, 2011, 9:57am PT No Comments The Entertainment… http://t.co/HjCPl77k

    Share
  31. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/ztzeoFuw #Apple #iPodtouch

    Share
  32. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/Y8CaD1Hr #marketing #business #success #biztips

    Share
  33. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software… http://t.co/EDqgF9cS

    Share
  34. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/0ZxPPjcY

    Share
  35. #Apple, @Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm : http://t.co/YsIGLRFY

    Share
  36. #apple Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/aXBJjXb2

    Share
  37. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/JLy1xgda

    Share
  38. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/6B72qKRw

    Share
  39. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/sirJLxoG

    Share
  40. Social Media News : Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/EE6iYj4z

    Share
  41. @earth2tech: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/IrB4rulz

    Share
  42. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/26qjg8FW

    Share
  43. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/0BjGZAqR

    Share
  44. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/i1NQI753

    Share
  45. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/vjY2J8ee

    Share
  46. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/cdbceKlH

    Share
  47. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/yHis2QAx

    Share
  48. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/Yl46zlag

    Share
  49. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/vj1j2lub

    Share
  50. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/g6pev75D

    Share
  51. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/D93nKXPR

    Share
  52. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/rZPhvIAD

    Share
  53. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/cEWKB1Kz

    Share
  54. RT @gigaom: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/VpoPIfBO

    Share
  55. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/BMv8bw9z via Kevin Fitchard

    Share
  56. **** Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ES… http://t.co/1fDYbn7X

    Share
  57. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/fUE4OxH4

    Share
  58. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/ZrnBjmpW

    Share
  59. #Apple, #Google absent from #ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/BeQ1J4ch @om #mobile

    Share
  60. RT @MobileNinja: Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/qXgM3Adc

    Share
  61. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – http://t.co/IYleeGHL http://t.co/AqPq7NXk

    Share
  62. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – http://t.co/FBJFI140 http://t.co/zXGLmneH

    Share
  63. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board intends … http://t.co/F4JYf1cN

    Share
  64. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: 29, 2011, 9:57am PT No Comments The Entertainment… http://t.co/l2M1aDjx

    Share
  65. ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/8M4GHsk8 > Not sure how this can account for apps that provide access, not content, per se.

    Share
  66. [GigaOM] Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board… http://t.co/dLeCm2R4

    Share
  67. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/0FZ4d1Vs

    Share
  68. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/ZgeocR1R

    Share
  69. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: Vance said that the ERSB’s review system also tak… http://t.co/sBtd8Rci

    Share
  70. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/LkOCAPg3

    Share
  71. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/LmsJOFoZ

    Share
  72. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/nG7seccl

    Share
  73. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: 29, 2011, 9:57am PT No Comments The Entertainment… http://t.co/dFtiI0V0

    Share
  74. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: … between 2 and 10 and found th… http://t.co/bMP6aNBx #EdTech #edapps

    Share
  75. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: Five mobile operators and Microsoft have signed o… http://t.co/VLjoZtFW

    Share
  76. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/GeRSySpb

    Share
  77. #Apple, @Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm : http://t.co/S87dUFzc

    Share
  78. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/vX6HBKMN

    Share
  79. When I first saw this I also noticed that Amazon was missing. Without those three I don’t point.

    Share
    1. Thanks for commenting, Greg. Good point! Amazon would be an interesting case, right? It uses ESRB ratings in its regular store for selling games already. It seems it would be a good candidate to adopt them for apps.

      Share
  80. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system … http://t.co/P6mQ9Kqf

    Share
  81. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system …: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board inte… http://t.co/m1iiUPwd

    Share
  82. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system …: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board inte… http://t.co/AxCjUhEB

    Share
  83. Apple, Google absent from ESRB's new mobile app rating system … http://t.co/lEBqCJM0

    Share
  84. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system: The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) i… http://t.co/4Vkz10mS

    Share
  85. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system … http://t.co/BquJzuts

    Share
  86. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/nAMLFOIm

    Share
  87. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system http://t.co/6PO8Olo6 via @editions

    Share
  88. Apple, Google absent from ESRB’s new mobile app rating system – GigaOm http://t.co/w7KZXJS7

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post