- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

A torrent of outrage was unleashed against Apple Inc. on Wednesday after parents discovered that the company was selling a new iPhone application called “Baby Shaker,” which encourages users to shake their digital devices to quiet down a screaming baby.

The application, available for 99 cents on Apple’s iTunes Web site since Monday, was quietly removed Wednesday afternoon.

“On a plane, on the bus, in a theater. Babies are everywhere you don’t want them to be,” reads the product pitch from developer Sikalosoft. “They’re always distracting you from preparing for that big presentation at work with their incessant crying. Before ‘Baby Shaker,’ there was nothing you could do about it.”

The application features lifelike drawings reminiscent of the 1950s’ and 1960s’ Gerber babies “to make those with a less than iron will fawn,” the pitch continues. Red Xs appear over the baby’s eyes after the device is shaken.

The pitch ends with a disclaimer: “Never, never shake a baby.”

Apple vets submitted requests for iPhone applications from software developers such as Sikalosoft.

“Baby Shaker” prompted a strong protest from the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, a New York nonprofit. The group’s founder, Patrick Donohue, sent e-mails to Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and some vice presidents to express his outrage.

“As the father of a 3-year-old who was shaken by her baby nurse when she was only 5 days old, breaking three ribs, both collarbones and causing a severe brain injury, words cannot describe my reaction,”Mr. Donohue wrote in the e-mail.

Marilyn Barr, founder of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, in Ogden, Utah, expressed horror over the software.

“Not only are they making fun of shaken-baby syndrome, but they are actually encouraging it,” Ms. Barr said. “This is absolutely terrible.”

Jennipher Dickens’ son, Christopher, fell victim to shaken-baby syndrome when he was 7 weeks old at the hands of his 21-year-old father.

“This horrible iPhone app will undoubtedly be downloaded thousands of times by others in that same young male demographic - the population group that is already statistically the most likely to shake babies,” Ms. Dickens said before the application was removed from the online store. “As a result of the child abuse my son endured in the form of shaken-baby syndrome, my son now has irreversible brain damage.”

Apple could not be reached for comment.

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