Apple iPad: Open market for content rivals?

Apple's new iPad will contain it's own iBooks store for e-book and subscription content. How many hurdles will third parties face to sell their content?
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer


Apple's new iPad will contain its own iBooks store for e-book and subscription content. How many hurdles will third parties face to sell their content?

On Friday, I anxiously await to be able to place my order for my new iPad. For my own personal use, this is a device that is going to kill a lot of birds with one stone, particularly as it relates to electronic content consolidation.

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As of today, there are over 150,000 iPhone/iPod Touch applications in Apple's App Store that will run on the iPad unmodified at launch date. The iPad will also be able to download all the videos and music that is available on iTunes.

At launch, the iPad will have its own eBook and subscription content store, iBooks. It's unkown how much content is going to be available on iBooks from day one, but it is estimated to be thousands of best selling books and a significant line-up of newspapers and magazines.

Today, Apple permits the leading eBook reseller, Amazon, which has over 450,000 titles available, to distribute Kindle for iPhone on the App Store, as well as Lexcycle's Stanza, a popular eBook reader and store also owned by Amazon with about 100,000 titles to choose from. Stanza can also download books from other independent electronic bookstores.

Apple also allows other companies such as Zinio to provide magazine and ebook content with their own viewer/store apps. Adobe Digital Editions, the format used on Barnes and Noble's Nook and the Sony Reader has not yet been natively ported to the iPhone, but it would not be technically impossible for the company to do so given the market opportunity, as long as it wasn't based on Flash.

The big question that remains is, will Apple allow these competing content stores to run on the iPad and the iPhone now that Apple has its own book store?

While it would seem that the answer SHOULD be "Yes", there is some reason to have pause and expect the worst.

In the past, Apple has had a long and often arbitrary acceptance process of what it has allowed in its App store. Applications from major developers, such as the first version of Google Voice, have been rejected presumably because the app duplicated some form of the iPhone's functionality or for contractual reasons and/or pressure from AT&T. One of the more notable ones other than Google Voice was Podcaster, now known as RSS Player, which Apple claimed duplicated iTunes' functionality.

Apple reserves the right to reject the publication of any app, for any reason.  It has also removed "Wi-Fi discovery" applications because they used undocumented iPhone APIs. There is now a cottage industry of web sites and blogs that tell you how to avoid rejection, and there's a lot of criteria there where you can run afoul.

Recently, Apple has pulled over 5000 "Adult Themed" applications from the app store -- applications which allowed iPhone and iPod Touch users to get access to or download adult content even if it was not immediately viewable.

If we can infer the same about Amazon's Kindle library, there is ""=""> (such as from Sex columnist/author Violet Blue) that might fall under this umbrella, but if the company is consistent with the way it works in its App Store ecosystem, Apple could make any excuse to kick Amazon Kindle, Lexcycle Stanza and Zinio off iPad island.

Personally, it would make me and a lot of other folks feel a lot better as a prospective iPad buyer if Apple were to make some sort of statement that it will NOT exile competing eBook reader apps or bookstores from the App Store. This would open up the market for folks like Adobe and others who would want to target the iPad as the premier eBook development and content consumption platform.

Should Apple make a commitment to allow competing eBook stores to remain on the App Store and run in native iPad mode? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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