Apple’s App Store Growing Up With Playboy for iPad

According to Hugh Hefner, Playboy (s pla) is coming to the iPad (s aapl) starting in March. And that’s not just a big screen conversion of the watered-down app currently available on the iPhone and iPod touch. No, it’s the fully uncensored magazine, both past and current issues.

Hefner revealed the news about the iPad on his Twitter account, where he tweeted the following:

In later tweets, he assured multiple followers that the magazine would be uncensored, and that back issues as well as current editions spanning the magazine’s entire run would be available for download. Hefner didn’t announce pricing or whether subscription plans were in the works. Many expect that Apple will introduce a digital subscription mechanic for iOS publications to coincide with the arrival of Rupert Murdoch’s dedicated iPad newspaper The Daily, however. The Daily was supposed to launch this Wednesday, but has been reportedly been delayed a few weeks.

If Playboy does indeed arrive on the iPad with full nudity intact, it’ll mark a significant change in App Store policy. Apple has seemed intent on keeping even relatively innocuous depictions of nudity or brazen sexuality out of its app marketplace. Last June, it censored illustrated nude images in comics based on James Joyce’s Ulysses and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. Sure, you could probably debate whether or not the nudity in those cases has a solid artistic motivation, but it’d be very difficult to have the same kind of discussion about Playboy.

The App Store isn’t completely without nudity, however. UK-based tabloid, The Sun (s nws), managed to somehow get its “Page 3 Girl,” who is depicted topless, through Apple’s vetting process in its iPad application. And this wasn’t just an oversight that Apple eventually corrected. In November 2010, The Sun introduced Page 360, a feature that lets you rotate the Page 3 girl, providing a 360-degree view of the model.

Perhaps Apple is moving forward with the Playboy venture after realizing that having nudity in the App Store through The Sun hasn’t been met with global public outrage or a boycott of the platform. The fact is, Apple has built a very robust parental control system during the past few major upgrades, and, as many have been quick to point out, the iPhone’s browser easily provides all the adult content anyone could ever dream of having access to.

Playboy is a good place to start if Apple is indeed planning to test the waters further with sexually suggestive material. Its depictions of nudity are fairly innocuous in terms of the spectrum of adult material, and it also offers some solid editorial content. If the public reacts poorly, it can easily pull the plug, but I think the platform is ready for this step, especially if Apple is serious about becoming a major magazine purveyor on the international market, where nudity in print is not at all uncommon.

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