Who Really Controls My iPad’s Information?

I find my iPad a really use information tool, reading newspapers, magazines, Twitter and books, the iPad “system” is great for finding information sources, regularly getting information from them and reading it wherever I am whenever I want.

For me, the key term in that paragraph is the “Information tool”.  My iPad is a hardware item and I’m grateful for Apple to also provide the App Store service and the iTunes software to find and manage my information.  However, having given Apple money for the device I expect to use it however I want.  If I want to read a certain news source I’m happy to go and find that news source.

While some information sources are free this isn’t a great problem, I’m not really bothered about how the BBC News app works, I found it, downloaded it and now it just works.  Reality though shows us that some information costs money and I have no issue paying for content that has a real world cost behind its creation – i.e. newspapers and magazines.  As Internet information consumers we’re going to have to wake up to the fact that our chargeable printed media is also going to cost money in an online form. 

This week I saw a news story on the Register (link) suggesting that Apple want to stop media companies providing printed edition subscribers from accessing the online version for free AND that all purchases of online media are purchased and distributed through Apple’s own App Store services.  Why?  Because Apple take a 30% cut of all revenues made through App Store purchases, and if you make using the App Store compulsory you’ve got yourself a nice little income.

If this was Microsoft implementing this rule people would be saying “anti-trust or conflict of interest before you could cancel your subscription.  Who said Apple can control the access, availability and financing of my information purchases?  They’re only my hardware provider?

More importantly, what incentive is there for publishers to make chargeable media available on the iPad?  I’m happy to pay the newsagent price for a copy of The Economist, but would I want the publisher to get 30% revenue because of Apple’s cut, or worse, would I pay 30% more to read it on my iPad? 

Reality seems to suggest that Apple control my use of my iPad even after I’ve bought.  If the financial model of my usage suits them it’ll be allowed, if it doesn’t it’ll be banned, so who really controls the iPad? 

By the way, due in late January is Apple’s own subscription-based daily iPad only news service…..


2 thoughts on “Who Really Controls My iPad’s Information?

  1. retracement

    Great post, I really don’t get Apple and behaviour like this completely puts me off buying their products. Its why I have resisted so far, and if an alternative can be found for the IPAD 2 (when it finally does appear) I will definitely give the alternative a try.

    1. gavinpayneuk Post author

      I think the iPad as a tablet device is great, good battery life, great interface and a wide range of apps I enjoy, I don’t believe it’ll ever be bettered by current or forthcoming competition, only chased like the iPod was with Zune etc. But like you say, Apple’s behaviour makes you think twice when you end up buying into a concept/information system, rather than just a piece of hardware. I seem to remember Microsoft tied OEM distributors into paying for a Windows license with every PC sold, regardless of whether it had Windows installed or something similar. In hindsight the legal investigations which found that type of activity made us realise it was crazy, I wonder if anyone will question Apple with their activities, whether they’re in the same league or not.


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