08 JUN

NY Times Gets Apple to Remove Pulse Reader from App Store [UPDATED]

by Marianne Schultz
 

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital reported early this morning that The New York Times Company had complained to Apple about the Pulse Reader app, which we previewed before it was released, prompting the company to remove it from the App Store. At issue are the app’s use of the RSS feed content for the New York Times and The Boston Globe as well as how the app “frames” these sites to display their content.

The App Store screen shots for Pulse Reader had prominently displayed content from The New York Times. Also, when a user chose to view an article from one of these sources in full, the app framed the content within its own UI, showing other articles in a bar across the bottom of the screen as shown below. Since Pulse Reader is a paid app, The New York Times Company is essentially claiming that it is re-packaging the company’s content and re-selling it.

We’re not lawyers, but we disagree with this assessment. Having used multiple RSS and news reader apps, Pulse Reader is no different from these in its functionality. It’s one thing if Apple is going to consistently apply this reasoning across the App Store and bar all RSS and news reader apps, but we think it’s unfair for it to single out one that performs the same function as many other apps.

The New York Times had recently written about Pulse Reader in its own technology blog just a few days ago, praising it as a “stylish and easy-to-use news aggregator.” This praise and attention from The New York Times itself is ironic in relation to its subsequent complaint to Apple. We can’t help but wonder if this is a little bit of sour grapes on the part of The New York Times, considering how Steve Jobs was purportedly disappointed with the company’s iPad app. In early May, Gawker had reported that Jobs himself has criticized the NYT Editor’s Choice app with its limited content and made his displeasure known to the news company. During yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Jobs had mentioned Pulse Reader when talking about the iPad and its success to date, calling it a “wonderful RSS reader.”

UPDATE:

Pulse News Reader is now back in the App Store. No official word has been given on why the app was allowed back in the App Store, but we’re not complaining. The screen shots shown in its App Store description still show the New York Times, though we wouldn’t be surprised if this changes soon.

The New York Times posted an article yesterday evening, mentioning the company’s concerns with the app. However, nothing beyond what had already been revealed by All Things Digital is explored or explained in that article. It concludes with the following ho-hum observations:

The conflict highlights the distinctions that some news organizations are trying to draw on mobile devices. Often they are publishing two versions of their content for reading on devices like the iPad: one on the open Web, and one available through an application.

The Times’s iPad application, which is free, offers a more limited selection of content than is available on its Web site.

News-reading applications like Pulse force news organizations to confront the fact that those two categories can be easily blurred, with Web content appearing within an app.

  • News

    Pulse News for iPad: Your News,...

    Last Changed:
    20 months ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (2225)
    Version:
    2.9.5
    iOS iPad

    *** This is an old version of Pulse. Download the new version by searching for "Pulse" in the app store and tapping the first result! *** Pulse brings all your favorite blogs,...

9 Comments

  1. Robert Basil

    You took too long to write about this. It’s already back in the store.

  2. Dave M.

    Yeah, but now the big question is why was it removed in the first place? Looking at the description in the app, there is a quote from the New York Times: “The iPad Pulse Reader Scales the Charts”. So, it’s not like they didn’t know about the app. :)

    Ya gotta wonder what’s going on over at Apple and the App Store reviewers…

  3. Robert Basil

    Dave: What part of the “NY Times Gets Apple to Remove” did you not understand?

  4. Dave M.

    Look Robert. First off, being rude is not a good way to make a point. If you have a point to make, please make it.

    My point was pretty clear. Why did the NYT ask to have the app removed only to have the app restored hours later. Was this a junior person at the NYT sending out the C&D letter, or did Steve Jobs call up the NYT and ask why they were making him look bad?

    Clearly, the NYT doesn’t have an issue with the app being in the store since its back up and selling just like before.

    There are some clear violations of the NYT terms of service with the developer using images of NYT stories in their promotion of the application. There are other conditions to the terms that are questionable. Including programs that make money using the NYT feeds. This is questionable since there are quite a few RSS reader apps selling in the App Store that can pull the NYT RSS feeds.

    This was my question to the readers and author of the above article.

  5. Robert Basil

    Dave,

    Wrong. In your first post you put the blame directly on Apple, not the NYT. If you are going to backtrack on your comment and now put the blame on the NYT (where IMHO is belongs) at least make sure we can’t still see your original comment where you blamed Apple and only Apple.

    “Ya gotta wonder what’s going on over at Apple and the App Store reviewers…”

  6. Dave M.

    I stand by my original statement. Apple gets a call from NYT telling them to take down the program, then hours later, the program re-appears. The NYT has no way of controlling what Apple does with removing and reinstating apps. Well, at least reinstating them.

    However, my point, which I implied was that Steve Jobs had to be pretty pissed about an application that he highlighted during his keynote was removed from the store less than 24 hours after the keynote. You have to assume that he dug into what happened and got it straightened out so that folks could still look for Pulse as one would expect after hearing about it in the keynote.

  7. Robert basil

    So you are now back to saying it’s Apple’s fault again? Please make up your mind and stick to one story. Next you will be blaming it on AT&T.

    You would make a great politition. Keep flip – flopping with your story. I’m enjoying the laugh. ;-)

  8. Dave M.

    Ok, I’m clearly stupid beyond recognition here. Since you seem to be the expert on this. Could you please explain to the ignorant masses what exactly happened at the NYT and Apple that caused Pulse to be removed then reinstated only a couple of hours later unchanged?

    I’m sure us morons would love to hear from the authority that you seem to be.

  9. Robert basil

    “Ok, I’m clearly stupid beyond recognition here.”

    Yes Dave, yes you are. Nice of you to finally admit it. Thanks!

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