Is the iPad a mobile device?
The question is no longer just a philosophical one, rather, it is now an important business issue facing content owners and developers — thanks in large part to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which has begun requiring that all applications work across the iPhone, iPod and iPad. This new policy, which has been mostly overlooked until recently, could allow Apple to delete long-standing iPhone applications that don’t comply — meaning that those apps could disappear from iTunes altogether.
We hear the applications mostly affected by Apple’s new rules are streaming-video services, like MobiTV, and mobile-game companies like Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS). It is possible that their licensing agreements with content owners would not cover emerging devices, like the iPad. In those cases, we could see games or other apps disappear from the store. From what we understand of the new developer guidelines, it’s unclear how long companies have to get into compliance, or how vigorously Apple will enforce the rule. There also seems to be a handful of exceptions. Apps can be iPhone-only if they require telephony, for example, and for now they can also be iPad-only (and don’t have to be backwards compatible). An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. EA also declined to comment.
MobiTV now faces a dilemma: CMO Ray DeRenzo explained the company, which has a number of popular mobile TV streaming applications, needs permission from its partners to sell the same 35 channels that it offers on cellphones today on tablets, too. But currently, the content owners are demanding a different rate structure for the tablet because it’s not clear whether it is a mobile device. MobiTV today charges $10 a month on a cellphone but that could soar to $30 a month on a tablet. “As a distributor, we have to license content, and the value of the content is set by the rights’ holders and content producers. [The tablet is] being priced as a home TV equivalent,” he said. “We have to make sure we can make a product that