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A Little Perspective Here

March 27th, 2010

Some people fear the idea of Apple exercising editorial control over content which will appear on their iPad:

That’s why the issue of Apple picking and choosing what we can and can’t read is so disturbing. If they’re forcing magazines to edit their contents in order to get distribution, then whatever Apple’s then-current (and thus far completely arbitrary) rules would determine what you get to read.

I believe that this is exactly what editors and publishers have done on a daily basis ever since the invention of publishing. Deciding what content should or should not appear in branded media is the norm, not a scary new age of oppression. If you want to read something else, then go read something else. Apple will not control all media in the world, won’t stop you from reading whatever the hell you like. Nor, as the writers of the scare piece quoted above suggest, will Apple start forcing content providers to follow any particular “political, religious, or ideological slant” just because they won’t allow porn or boobie apps on the iPhone. To go from Apple not approving some fart apps to the idea that Apple might one day start telling Time Magazine what political slant they should take, or what religious views the Christian Science Monitor is allowed to print, is the slippery slope at its worst. Nor can they make the argument that Apple is different because it is a distributor of other media publishers; Amazon does not allow certain content to be sold on their store, bookstores similarly choose what books appear on their shelves, and so on. Nothing new here.

Fact is, outside of the web, all book, magazine, newspaper, radio, television, and motion picture content is already edited by a small group of people who decide what will or will not be published, and many already impose a “political, religious, or ideological slant”–always have, always will. And much of what is on the web is similarly controlled. (Come to think of it, the writers of that very article were working under the exact same level of editorial control, which could explode into terrifying abuse at any moment!) Look at Fox News; you think they don’t control the political slant on their media outlet? The authors of this piece are going for the shock value of a nonsensical potential state of affairs which (a) we have no reason to expect will happen on Apple media and (b) happens most everywhere else already.


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  1. March 31st, 2010 at 03:59 | #1

    The difference is the level of power that Apple has, and their planned/dreamed of position as a content medium.

    Imagine that the telephone company puts in software that scans all the stuff that people are talking about on their calls, and then dumps calls whenever someone mentions boobies or porn or something. Would that be appropriate?

    Apple wants to control the entire distribution channel. iTunes already has a hugely dominant position in the online music market and Apple would be perfectly happy with it if they could get it to do the same with online video.

    Okay, some stores don’t sell porn. Lots of stores don’t sell porn, for that matter… but they’re not trying to build a completely CLOSED system that forces users of their software to use their hardware, and users of their hardware to only use their software.

    Apple does exactly that- tries to maintain complete control of both sides of the equation AND of the distribution/sales channel in the meanwhile.

    For all the talk of Microsoft’s monopoly, it’s always seemed to me that Apple is greater of far more monopolistic behavior. The only saving grace is that the PC market was so wide-open, with Apple never really getting more than about 10% of it, that it wasn’t a big deal.

    But in some of these other markets? Where Apple has around 70% of the market share for digital music and is the biggest seller of music overall? That’s pretty legit for people to get worried about what Apple is going to do with their market power.

    The difference between you and me blogging whatever we want (exercising that editorial slant and control) and Apple doing it is that Apple doesn’t control 70% of the blog content in the USA. If they did, well… that’d be something. And if they blocked 70% of the people in the USA from being able to READ your blog, you’d probably have something more to say about it- yet that’s exactly what they are trying to do with their control over their markets.

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