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No doubt about it, being an iOS developer is sometimes tough. Take for instance the tale of two Sanford University grad students who created a popular, up-and-coming news reader which even caught the eye of Steve Jobs, only to have their app removed later that day.
All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher has the full story in her Tuesday BoomTown blog -- and it’s a doozy. During Steve Jobs’ keynote address at WWDC 2010 on Monday, the Apple CEO made the day of two enterprising Sanford University graduate students when he mentioned them as “one of the most promising developers” for the iPad, thanks to their innovative Pulse News Reader.
22-year-old Akshay Kothari and his 23-year-old development partner Ankit Gupta were certainly thrilled by Jobs’ brief mention -- that is, until Apple pulled their work from the App Store by 6:30 pm PST the same night. So what happened?
It turns out that Apple received a written notice from The New York Times Company, who “believes your application named ‘Pulse News Reader’ infringes The New York Times Company’s rights.” Ironically, Times tech writer Brad Stone had only last week written a blog post entitled “The iPad Pulse Reader Scales the Charts,” which was essentially a love letter to the grad students’ RSS feed app.
“Pulse is a stylish and easy-to-use news aggregator,” wrote Stone in the aforementioned blog post last week. “News organizations still puzzling over their iPad strategies can perhaps derive some hope from Pulse’s success -- or at least its price tag.”
Pulse News Reader only took the two grad students four weeks to develop, initially as a class project, and has already caught the attention of a number of tech journals for the innovative way in which it displays RSS feeds. Even with a $3.99 price tag, the app has been downloaded 35,000 times, hitting the number one spot on the paid app charts several times over the last few weeks.
“I don’t blame Apple, because they have to respond when contacted by lawyers from the Times,” said co-developer Kothari in response to Apple’s takedown of the Pulse app. “But it was definitely a rollercoaster of a day.”
The grad students will try to work with Apple this week to remove RSS feeds from The New York Times in order to get Pulse back up on the App Store -- although as Swisher notes, “it is not immediately clear why they need to, since Pulse draws from publicly available Times RSS feeds as many other apps do.”
(Image courtesy of All Things Digital)