In the end, money talks, and that’s why a controversial move by the New York Post to block iPad users from accessing the newspaper’s website via the iPad’s browser may become a growing trend.
Starting this weekend, iPad users attempting to access NYPost.com via the iPad’s browser instead are greeted with a graphic prompting them to download the New York Post iPad app ($1.99). And despite numerous complaints, the app has quickly risen to the Top 10 Grossing iPad Apps list.
The blocking of a website to a specific device is a twist on what was originally supposed to be a useful feature: optimized versions of websites for mobile devices. Whenever a browser accesses a website, it can identify the operating system and device it’s running on to the site. Now, web publishers are using that information to delay or even block users, instead providing a landing page that prompts users to download an app. For example, movie-review site Rotten Tomatoes prompts iPad users to download the Movies by Flixster app before allowing users to pass on to the website.
And not everyone is happy about it. The Scripting News‘ Dave Winer describes it as “breaking the web” and suggests Apple change its software to no longer identify itself as an iPad to websites.
But with major newspapers struggling to stay profitable, the success of the Post’s iPad app may cause more newspapers to follow suit.
iPad users do have a way to fight back. They can simply download an alternate browser that doesn’t identify itself as running on an iPad. We highly recommend the free Terra browser app.