A couple of days ago I looked at the implications Apple’s expulsion of explicit apps might have for e-books. But I missed the more immediate implication for e-newspapers and magazines, which are covered in this post on Wired’s “Gadget Lab” blog.
Brian X. Chen, the writer of the piece, thinks that Apple’s decision should make newspapers and magazines think twice about their plans to develop for the iPad. Chen suggests that it is possible that, if a paper or magazine posts a particularly controversial article, Apple could be pressured into taking down the iPad version of the periodical even if the periodical itself does not intend to give in.
He also points out that—unlike books, music, and movies, which can carry “explicit” material in their dedicated iTunes stores—newspapers and magazines will have to go into the App Store, with its inconsistently-applied and arbitrary standards.
I’m optimistic that Apple will eventually create a separate section in iTunes for digital newspapers and magazines, giving publishers a platform to distribute their digital content based on a strict, contractual agreement that prevents their content from being arbitrarily removed at Apple’s discretion. Publishers should be waiting until Apple delivers that platform, rather than whipping up iPad apps and subjecting them to the gauntlet of Apple’s approval process.
Chen also brings up the suggestion that Apple should loosen its restrictions and allow sites or stores outside of Apple’s App Store to host material that Apple won’t allow in its own store—perhaps with a parental control setting to keep young users from being able to go there.
Whatever happens, in a way it is good that Apple is taking these actions now, while the iPad is still in its early stages. Every arbitrary decision Apple makes should send a warning to publishers and developers: if you get in bed with Apple, you never know when Apple might kick you out.