The good news is that at least there was a response from Apple. The not so good news is that while the response from Phil Schiller is laid out logically, it answers one question and not another.
There are two different points here as pointed out by Jon Gruber of Daring Fireball. the first is has to do with timing. Apparently when the Ninjawords app was submitted it was in the days before OS 3.0 and ratings. The Ninjawords folks admit they pulled the words, hoping for an approval and since there was no rating system at the time that makes some sense. Gruber buys that explanation as far as it goes, and I do as well. Of course some transparency and communication with the developers would probably have avoided some of the stink this has aroused.
But maybe not. Gruber also brings up that nagging issue of consistency. Schiller's point (you can read the letter on Daring Fireball) is that Apple didn't reject the app for including references to common swear words. He goes on to say that other dictionary apps (as I pointed out here) contain some of those same words.
Where things get tricky and confusing is that Schiller puts quotes (I think it was him) around the word "all" when he speaks of the other words that were included in other apps. Gruber points out this inconsistency, as the three words that Apple seems to have specifically objected too were also included in at least one other dictionary. (Again, see the screen shots here-two of those screen shots show two of them existing in the Dictionary.com app, the third also exists, but I didn't take a screen shot of it. ) Schiller calls these "other, more vulgar terms." He's right on that perception for many, but that's beside the point. Gruber points out that some of the other apps that contain references to those words have a rating as low as 4+, some as high as +17. Dictionary.com is currently rated 4+
I'm sure there are other issues involved that include timing of when apps were submitted and when complaints may or may not have come in, but if as Schiller suggests in the quote below there may be some hope.
Apple’s goals remain aligned with customers and developers — to
create an innovative applications platform on the iPhone and iPod
touch and to assist many developers in making as much great
software as possible for the iPhone App Store. While we may not
always be perfect in our execution of that goal, our efforts are
always made with the best intentions, and if we err we intend to
learn and quickly improve.
Maybe this is the beginning of some transparency in the process. Now if we can just work on that consistency thing.