One of the more interesting dichotomies to develop in the software ecosystem over the past few years has been the open nature of Google’s app stores versus the closed and controlled marketplace maintained by Apple.
A new app in the Chrome store, Read WSJ, lets users get access to stories protected by the paywall without paying for a subscription the Wall Street Journal. It’s the perfect example of the sort of viral application that a permissive marketplace fosters.
It’s also the sort of thing that is going to produce big headaches for Google, which has had little luck in securing partnerships with the music, television and publishing industries.
Several studies have shown that Apple ends up producing more revenue for developers and has a lower attrition rate. On the other hand, Google’s approach has led to explosive growth, helping Android to overtake iOS as the largest smartphone platform.
The “Read WSJ” app grabs a cached version of the story and delivers readers the unlocked article.
No doubt someone at News Corp. is on the phone demanding Google take it down right now. But the app has already proliferated to several smaller markets and sites, ensuring it will live on no matter what action is taken.
The Chrome Store offers no information on who created the app, although the developer has been keeping up a lively discussion in response to complaints and questions logged in the comment section.