An Unofficial iPad App Gives Away Guardian Stories

If you build it, they may come; but if you don’t build it yet give away the raw materials, someone may build it for you.

Such is the case when it comes to The Guardian and iPad apps.

The Guardian, whose website was a key plank of Apple’s iPad marketing campaign, has thus far held back from reproducing its pay-for mobile phone app on iPad during the device’s early rush, which has seen some publishers misstepping with a quick trigger finger.

Nevertheless, Today’s News, an iPad app inspired by independent designer Phil Gyford and made by Gameplan founder Andy Croll, yesterday went live on iTunes Store, containing full text from Guardian pages, “powered by The Guardian”. Price to iPad users: free.

In stark contrast to some conservative rival publishers, Guardian stories are made freely available to re-users like bloggers and developers through the paper’s Open Platform API.

It goes to the heart of Guardian News & Media’s vision of a “mutualised” newspaper, but GNM does hope to make money this way – in May, the Open Platform opened to commercial partners and stories syndicated to bloggers will include ads. Open Platform leader Matt McAlister in August told me these ads were not yet being sold.

So Today’s News – essentially an app version of the website Gyford made in June – includes its own set of ads. We have asked Croll from where these are being served.

Today’s News is not necessarily a threat to The Guardian; its developers are interested mostly in re-inserting the “swipeability” of linear page turning in to the digital form…

But, if an institutional rival should decide to repackage Guardian content as part of a broad-based news offering (News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) wants to release an iPad app aggregating newspaper content, itself reports), that could pose an interesting situation.

Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.