Hearst Planning to Flood the iPhone App Store With Crappy, Weaselly AggregatorsS

Rather than provide quality content to the App Store, humungus publisher Hearst is taking a page from the now-banned Perfect Acumen playbook: charge people for other people's content.

Perfect Acumen used to be the third largest publisher at the App Store before getting banned. They had over 900 apps published, most of which were very specific content-related apps that charged people for crap pulled from other websites. Sound familiar?

Hearst's LMK ("let me know") applications unit has already released some 70 titles in the App Store priced mostly at $1.99 and including apps tailored to fans of Angelina Jolie, the Boston Red Sox and Green Day. Sound like an expensive proposition? Hearst told The Wall Street Journal it can turn out the apps at low cost by using a similar template for each and linking to information from outside sources.

The publisher is paying for rights to photos but not other content pulled from traditional news outlets and blogs. The Angelina Jolie app, for instance, used a story from E! about why she didn't attend the Academy Awards and other material from the gossip blog Bossip. So the apps are, in effect, mini-content aggregators, drawing from different sites around Web.

Hey Hearst, if you want people to pay for your content a good first step is offering them content you created yourselves.

I'd like to think Hearst would get the same treatment as Perfect Acumen for this, but it's one of the biggest publishers in America rather than a shady Pakistani app developer, so I'm not gonna hold my breath. [Mediapost]