June 07, 2010

Is Apple Anti-Charity?

Apparently, there isn't "an app for that" when it comes to making it easy for charities to collect donations on Apple's iPhone.

Beth Kanter this weekend pointed to a blistering blog post by Jake Shapiro, the chief executive of Public Radio Exchange, who criticizes Apple for putting too many hurdles in front of charities that want to raise money through its products.

Mr. Shapiro said the technology company prohibits developers of nonprofit-themed iPhone and iPad applications from including links and language about donations.

For Mr. Shapiro, who develops applications for public radio and for the popular show "This American Life," says Apple's stance allows the company to benefit from hosting public-radio products without giving public-radio outlets such as NPR the ability to collect donations.

"Apple is effectively blocking a major revenue stream to public media while enthusiastically featuring public-media content and apps that enhance value for its devices," Mr. Shapiro writes.

In fact, he accuses the company of cannibalizing nonprofit groups in pursuit of its own bottom line.

"I suspect the deeper reasons for Apple's uncharitable stance is that the nonprofit and education markets are just that — "markets" that represent hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue to Apple in the form of computer, software, iPod, and now iPhone and iPad sales," he writes.

"There is no financial upside for Apple to enable a direct path for nonprofit and charitable support. And note that there is no 'Apple Foundation,' no 'Apple Grants."

Do you agree with Mr. Shapiro? Does Apple have an obligation to provide nonprofit groups with easier ways to collect donations through its products?

Post a comment below to share your thoughts.