NYT on The Tablet and Apple’s Relationship With Content Publishers

This news piece by Brad Stone and Stephanie Clifford has an odd tone:

People who have seen the tablet say Apple will market it not just as a way to read news, books and other material, but also a way for companies to charge for all that content. By marrying its famously slick software and slender designs with the iTunes payment system, Apple could help create a way for media companies to alter the economics and consumer attitudes of the digital era.

This opportunity, however, comes with a sizable catch: Steven P. Jobs.

Mr. Jobs, the chief executive, made Apple the most important distributor of music by imposing its own will on the music labels, bullying them into accepting Apple’s pricing and other terms. Apple sold lots of music, but the music labels claimed that iTunes had destroyed the concept of the album and damaged their already deteriorating bottom lines.

Music industry executives may well not like what’s happened to their industry, but is it really bullying from Apple? Or isn’t it simply that Apple does not do what the music executives wish? That Apple runs its music store its own way? What the music industry really doesn’t like is the whole idea of downloads. They want to go back to selling $18 discs. Pre-iTunes, “music downloads” were pretty much all free bootlegs.

The print publishing industry should be so lucky to have iTunes do for them what it’s done for music.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010