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BBC iPhone apps put on hold

The BBC Trust has suspended development of Auntie's iPhone apps while it considers the potential effect on the market, with rival publishers howling in protest

The BBC Trust has suspended development of Auntie's iPhone apps while it considers the potential effect on the market. The apps, announced last month at Mobile World Congress, would have delivered rich news and sport content direct to your iPhone.

Rival media organisations, headed by the Newspaper Publishing Association, howled in protest at the mooted apps, saying they would hamper a fledgling market. The, er, BBC reports (it's weird when it does that) that the Trust is launching an assessment, after "representations from industry".

The issue at hand is whether the apps would count as a new offering -- comparable to a new magazine, say -- or an extension of its existing online services. Future apps would also appear on the Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and webOS systems.

The BBC was keen to submit its sport app in particular in time for the football World Cup in June. If the Trust has to carry out a lengthy business analysis, that deadline may well be missed.

The decision comes at a crucial time for the BBC, with a potential Conservative government likely to curb its size and influence. A strategic review of the corporation's output last month announced plans to shut digital radio stations 6 Music and the Asian Network, and to trim its online service.

What do you think? Should the BBC be allowed to develop apps around its own services? Or would the market be better served by commercial rivals? The comments are open for your media-savvy ponderings.