Should Apple Decide What You Can Read?

Aug 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Commentary, General

Apple has unleashed a storm of criticism as a result of its decision to ban an ebook comic book, Murderdrome, from the iTunes store.

Murderdrome may be stupid, it may be offensive and it is certainly gorey – but it’s no worse than a lot of comics that you can get at Barnes and Noble or Borders. You can view the full first issue at the publisher, Infurious Comics.

Here’s what Infurious has to say about the situation:

By now, you might have heard that Murderdrome has been banned by Apple. This is due to the part of the sdk that suggests content must NOT offend anyone in ‘apple’s reasonable’ opinion. Here at infurious, we would love to work with Apple to ensure a content rating system can be put in place to allow material that is no more offensive than many of the R rated films available to download on iTunes.

The ban from Apple may ultimately be a gift to Infurious, making them notorious. But the ban raises the question of whether you want anybody deciding for you what you can read.

We’ve criticized the Kindle in the past because it’s an expensive doorway to a relatively closed system of buying expensive content. And we’ve praised the iTunes/iPod platform for embracing Internet media, making it easy to subscribe to mainstream podcast content throught the iTunes store, but also leaving the platform open so that you can subscribe to anything you want.

Apple can compete with Amazon’s Kindle, but it’s not going to do it by picking and choosing what you get to read, or putting a convoluted approval process between you and the content you want to read.

It’s only going to revolutionize ebooks if it can create a platform with same openness and ease of use that it’s brought to podcasting.

Update: There’s great coverage of this at Fortune and at Mike Cane 2008.

Update 2: Here’s a video demo of reading Murderdrome on an iPhone:

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply