Apple has long been known for having a draconian stance on what gets into the App Store. The latest victim of that approval process could set a dangerous precedent with repercussions within the e-book marketplace. Sony submitted an app for their e-reader (albeit, a couple of years late to the game), which was rejected by Apple because of the fact that it allowed users to purchase ebook titles from within the app. This has been Apple’s stance on e-book reader applications as users of either the kindle or nook apps know – the app opens Safari so that you can browse the selection and make your purchase, then download within the app to read your content. But the second part of Apple’s rejection of the Sony app gets dangerous – according to this article published by The New York Times,
“they have told some developers, including Sony, that users of the app can no longer have access to content purchased outside of the app store”
The implications of that statement could be devastating to the ebook marketplace, but could have even larger ramifications for all media not purchased from within the confines of the App Store model.
It seems as if Apple is making an attempt to make the iBook app the only game in town. The current fragmentation in ebook readers is troublesome, true, but I enjoy the flexibility in being able to shop around for a book and still be able to read it on my iPad or iPhone in its own app. I have a first-gen nook reader as well, so I like being able to read my content on either device. The new nook kids app for the iPad is incredible for children’s books as well, and really showcases what can be done on the platform. This decision, if carried across to the other reader apps, would effectively shut them down completely. While I like the shine and polish of the iBook app, finding books in the store is difficult and the selection is a fraction of what is available for the Kindle or nook. Publishers simply aren’t flocking to the Apple bookstore model, and I don’t think that strong-arming them will help that situation.
As usual, the ones who will feel the impact of this decision the most will be the consumers. Speaking from my own experience, I’ve gotten used to being able to read through a quick chapter on my iPhone nook application while I’m at lunch, pop open my nook to read out on the back patio, and use the iPad nook app to read in bed where it’s darker and harder to read the e-ink display on the nook. Barnes and Noble even syncs the book across the platforms, so I pick up where I left off no matter what device I’m reading on. Having that flexibility should be what an open marketplace is all about – my content, purchased where I choose, and consumed on the device I choose.
That’s what makes the iOS devices so attractive, they can become that one-stop shop to consume whatever media I desire, be it my books purchased at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, my movies on Netflix or that I’ve ripped from my personal DVD collection (hello, fair-use), my audiobooks on Audible, or my magazines on Zinio (although, their magazine store is censored for content so maybe not the best example). To not allow any outside content that is not sold directly through Apple channels could be a crippling decision, and one that I hope Apple rethinks. It wouldn’t be the first time Apple takes a firm stance on an app, only to approve it later due to public pressure (Google Voice, I’m looking at you). This should be where Apple is focused, making the iPad the go-to device for media consumption. I mean, why would I want a Kindle and a nook, when I could have a single iPad that can display content for either, and do so much more to boot?
What do you think? Leave me a comment below and let’s continue this discussion, or shoot me a tweet @andymartinaz.
(via The New York Times)
UPDATE – Apple has put out an official statement to All Things Digital on their position:
“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” company spokesperson Trudy Miller told me. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
So, this means that Amazon and Barnes and Noble will most likely have to redesign their apps to allow browsing and purchasing from inside the app itself, driving those transactions through the App Store model and giving Apple their standard 30% cut on the sale. On the surface, I find it interesting that this decision by Apple comes very soon on the heels that Amazon announced that they sold more Kindle books than physical books so far this year. Could be that Apple is simply getting greedy, since they certainly aren’t selling that kind of volume in their own iBook Store.
(Via All Things Digital)