Update: Apple apparently realized that losing 30% of revenue on sales of the Pulse News Reader wasn’t worth playing along with the Times’ weirdness, and put the app back up for sale before the end of the day–with the newspaper’s feed still included as a default.
The Times’s lawyers have a problem with the fact that Pulse costs $4, which makes it a commercial endeavor, which is forbidden.
What’s bizarre (and idiotic) about that notion is that there are plenty of commercial RSS readers out there, both on mobile platforms and for PCs, that the Times will have to ban from accessing its RSS feed if it wants to be thorough and not simply reactionary. The free RSS readers aren’t always exactly non-commercial either; the last time I checked, Google Reader exists solely to display ads, which in turn make Google lots of money.
The developers of Pulse say they are simply going to pull the NYT feed from the default feed list and put the app back up for sale, and probably give thanks to the newspaper for all the free publicity. Meanwhile, I guess we’ll all wait around to see whether the Times declares war on all RSS aggregators, or just the ones that do a better job than it can at making its content look good on the iPad.
Update: As several readers have pointed out below, Google Reader doesn’t display ads directly as part of the Reader interface. I should have been more specific. What Google actually does is place AdSense ads in RSS feeds of participating content creators, so by creating the free RSS reader it creates a place to display those ads and generate revenue. I suppose this actually keeps it free from the NYT’s legal team’s ice glare, since the NYT doesn’t use AdSense in its RSS feed.