The CTIA Wireless Trade Association announced a partnership with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to start rating mobile applications. The ESRB is the group responsible for determining the age-appropriateness of video games.
While few details are currently available regarding the actual system that will be used for ratings, it will likely follow the lead of the ESRB and be focused on the age-appropriateness of the content and context of mobile applications.
The initiative was actually launched by the CTIA near the end of March 2011 (PDF), and called for the "voluntary self-certification of apps." The program would seek to have app-makers define the content within their creations based on a specific set of ratings and guidelines.
The app stores, of course, already have controls in place to notify/alert consumers what type of content is contained within. Apple, for example, has age-group specific ratings along with its rather rigid App Store Guidelines. Google has a four-tier rating system.
Microsoft might be the best positioned to adopt at least some of the elements of the CTIA/ESRB rating systems because its current offering uses both its own content guidelines and existing ESRB ratings if they are already available from within other platforms.