The popular online marketing slogan ‘content is king’ not only refers to the importance of writing engaging copy that also speaks to search engines. It also refers to the broader idea of understanding your medium and how your audience consumes content, including video, music, and images, within that medium.
This is especially the case when part of a new gadget’s hype is built around the groundbreaking ways it enhances our content consumption. After all, what is a nifty piece of technology without the amazing things that it can show us, customized for our specific interests?
Medium as Role Model
History has proven that people don’t like being told what content they can and can’t consume through their own pieces of technology (look at the recording industry decline, for example), unless of course they are trying to control what their children are looking at online.
Apple’s recent actions to censor content come apparently in response to complaints from parents and women in general about pornographic material available in the iTunes store. But should Apple really take on that responsibility? Should parents rely on TV, video games, and other media to raise their kids? The answer to this age-old debate seems quite obvious.
This censorship of pornographic content has morphed into a sweeping ban of all content deemed by Apple to be adult in nature, including everything from games that have scantily clad female characters, to fashion photography and art containing nudity.
For example, someone who has paid for a subscription to Vice Magazine on his or her iPad, will receive a censored version of the magazine, which, let’s face it, completely removes the allure of such a publication. This just doesn’t make any sense for a product that is supposed to offer an exciting new way to consume magazine content, thus breathing new life into the ailing industry.
Another reason Apple is prohibiting the use of certain programs on its devices is simply to prevent other companies from cashing in on income that might otherwise be diverted to the iTunes store. But will the banning of certain content send consumers to the competition anyway?
How Long Will We Put Up With It?
With Apple’s recent acts to censor content on its products, in addition to banning certain types of code altogether, they’re demonstrating a retreat from the ‘content is king’ mantra. They are making the arbitrary decision to limit what content you can consume through their products while using morality and competition as their crutches.
Of course, you can’t blame a business for wanting to remain competitive, but at what cost? What constitutes as too far? How long will people be seduced by sexy new gadgets until they get fed up with the fact that they’re not allowed to use them to consume their preferred content, even content they’ve rightfully paid for?
Picking Up The Slack
Apple’s censorship of applications, including wiping out those featuring adult content, regurgitated website feeds, and geo-location based ads, has prompted the competition to pick up the slack. Google’s open Android OS, for example, allows all of the above.
And the amount of people interested in purchasing the Android is skyrocketing. According to PC World, at the end of 2009, the number of people who saw an Android in their future had surpassed that of BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm. In fact, according to Market Watch, NPD Group reported that Android market share surpassed that of the iPhone in the first quarter of 2010.
If Google cashes in on the mobile porn market, Apple could be in trouble. With 43% of Internet users consuming online porn (one out of three being female), you better believe it’s going to be a huge market for the increasing mobile content world. This figure doesn’t include the content that is being censored under the debatable blanket ‘adult content’ category.
Time will tell if the Apple is shooting itself in the foot, or if slick design and functionality can dethrone the almighty content overlord.