Apple turns 25 apps (Red) in campaign to fight AIDS

Apple has launched a two-week fund-raising campaign to mark World AIDS Day.

Apple today launched a two-week fund-raising campaign to mark World AIDS Day, promising that proceeds from the sale of 25 limited-edition apps and a portion of online and retail sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will go to the Global Fund.

The Cupertino, Calif. company has been a contributor to (Red), the charity co-founded in 2006 by U2 front man Bono to fight AIDS and HIV in Africa, since its start. Then-CEO Steve Jobs kicked off Apple's participation with a special-edition iPod Nano in October 2006. Since then Apple has given $75 million to the Global Fund.

This year's campaign marked Apple's broadest collaboration with the project.

"For eight years, our customers have been helping fight AIDS in Africa by funding life-saving treatments which are having a profoundly positive impact," said CEO Tim Cook in a statement yesterday. "This year, we are launching our biggest fundraising push yet with the participation of Apple's retail and online stores, and some of the brightest minds in the App Store are lending their talents to the effort as well."

World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, is a 26-year-old coordinated effort to raise awareness of AIDS, educate people about HIV and commemorate those who have died of the disease.

Apple will donate all proceeds from sales through Dec. 7 of the 25 (RED)-edition apps and the special in-app purchases within those apps, to the Global Fund, the world's largest financier of anti-AIDS, -tuberculosis and -malaria programs.

The iOS apps range from Paper by FiftyThree to Clear to Clash of Titans and Despicable Me. Those apps have been tweaked with new (Red)-themed icons, and most offer specially-designed in-app purchases for existing users.

The to-do list Clear app, for example, has created a new $1.99 (Red) theme; in the App Store, Clear said that every purchase "enables (Red) to provide 10 days' worth of life-saving medicine for mothers with HIV."

Additionally, an undisclosed portion of all sales through Apple's online stores and its chain of retail outlets on Black Friday, Nov. 28, and Cyber Monday, Dec. 1, will be given to the Global Fund.

Those days are among the largest retail sales days in the U.S.

But one analyst forecast there would be some resistance from iPhone and iPad owners.

In his Stratechery subscriber-only daily update today, Ben Thompson forecast a backlash because iPhone owners who have automatic updates enabled -- the default -- will suddenly see new icons for any already-installed apps among the 25.

"The coordinated change will also shatter the illusion that your phone is personal to you and offer a stark reminder that Apple exerts significant control," Thompson said. He drew a comparison to the uproar two months ago when Apple pushed a free U2 album to all iCloud account owners, automatically downloading its tracks to customers' iPhones, iPads and Macs.

A week later Apple published a tool that allowed customers to delete U2's Songs of Innocence from their devices.

"To be clear, this idea is much less objectionable [than the U2 album], and certainly won't garner nearly the outcry, but the coordinated app icon change still feels off," Thompson concluded.

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