The New York Times and their Misguided War on Pulse

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on June 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

You have to feel sorry for the two Stanford grads who developed the Pulse News Reader app, which currently sits at the top of the charts in Apple’s App Store.

And given that it costs $3.99, that’s notable for several reasons but more on that in a bit.

First, The New York Times writes a post about it, calling Pulse a “stylish and easy-to-use news aggregator.”

The paper points out that “news organizations still puzzling over their iPad strategies can perhaps derive some hope from Pulse’s success — or at least its price tag” quoting someone involved with Pulse’s development as saying: “You absolutely do not have to give away something great for free. If you build something great, people will pay you for it.”

Now, take a moment here. Two Stanford grads come up with this great app that makes it easy to scan through content from different sites. Since you pick the sites you’re scanning, there’s no secret about where the news comes from. The app also makes it very easy for you to go to the website to see the full story.

And, as noted, people — many people — are willing to pay.

So, what’s the reaction of the Times to an app that presents their content in an easy to read fashion that sends people to their website?

They send a letter to Apple demanding that they remove the app from their store.

As Wired Magazine points out, it’s almost as if the paper’s cutting off its nose to spite its face:

“The poor old Times has managed to gain 35,000 subscribers in a few weeks, without doing a thing. Those are pretty good numbers, and you’d think that the paper would be happy about this free exposure.

PC World reported the move “created a stir” because, really — as AllThingsD put it: “Pulse is little more than a really well-designed RSS reader.”

Now, if I was the Times (in the interest of disclosure, while I’m not the Times, I have freelanced for them), I would be less worried about Pulse and send my lawyers after some other aggregators that will take the paper’s content and pretty much — if not present it as their own — kind of hide where the news came from.

In fact, there’s one aggregator that I’ve written about (I mentioned his name in this piece but no longer feel he even deserves that bit of respect) who recently said:

“Here at (xxxx; as I said,  I don’t want to direct any traffic to his site), we’re particularly eager for the charge walls to go up. You’ll be able to spend more of your time and effort reading The New York Times, you can come to (xxxx) and for no money at all spend less time and effort getting the news in the Times.”

In other words, he plans to steal the paper’s content, present it as his own and do very little — if anything — to send readers to the paper’s site.

Word of advice to the Times: Leave Pulse alone  — and it’s important to note here that the app is once again available — and go after this guy. He’s the threat.

  1. […] The New York Times and their Misguided War on Pulse – Colin Miner … […]

  2. Journalism organizations must accept that in the digital era, receiving credit from others is as good as it’s going to get. Yes, my words and deep (?) thoughts show up on numerous Web sites now, without “permission” granted by me. But rather than fight the current reality in the manner of the New York Times, I’ve accepted that dissemination is the sincerest form of flattery.

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