There’s a great and insightful story on Mashable that highlights how Playboy got around the no-nudity rules of the Apple App Store to be able to deliver a full-featured tablet app to its subscribers: It steered clear of the App Store altogether.
The publisher obviously had some unique requirements for an app, given the content of its pages and the expectations of its subscribers. So given the App Store’s rules, Playboy created an iPad-optimized website instead of an officially endorsed iPad app.
The Mashable story points to a vast number of technology challenges the developers faced in creating the iPad-optimized website experience—some of which, ironically, were able to be addressed by Apple’s own browsers. The piece also questions the future of app marketplaces if something like Playboy’s effort is successful and repeatable:
If developers can build web apps that do everything a native app can, who needs the App Store (and its accompanying 30% revenue cut and frustrating approval process) anyway? Is the mobile content gatekeeper on tenuous ground?
Obviously Playboy’s situation is unique, given the nature of its content and Apple’s stance on nudity. But that’s not the only reason developers get frustrated with the app approval process. It would not be the least bit surprising for other app creators to begin experimenting with technologies that ultimately could release them from the shackles of app marketplaces.