Apple denies claim that Sony Reader, Kindle in danger on iOS App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple issued a surprisingly timely response to a claim made by the New York Times that suggested the company might bar iOS apps that sell content outside of Apple's software market within iTunes.



The original report was based on comments from Sony, which said its ebook Reader app had failed to pass Apple's approval process because its in-app sales weren't going through Apple.



Writing for the New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft wrote the Apple is "further tightening its control of the App Store," and then speculated that this might spell the last days for similar apps, including Amazon's Kindle ebook title, which like Sony Reader, competes against Apple's own iBook app.



However, Wall Street Journal blogger John Paczkowski has reported official comment from Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller, who said the company has not "changed our developer terms or guidelines," while noting that "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."



That would be the reverse of the situation reported by the Times, and also makes more sense. Pulling popular titles such as Kindle, and similar content-access apps including Dropbox, Hulu+, Netflix and Pandora, would do little to benefit Apple.



In-app option required, but not exclusive



Instead, as Paczkowski explained, "Apple wants its cut on sales enabled by its iOS devices, it has an established guideline that allows it to take it and that?s what it?s doing.



"Developers are still free to send customers to their own Web stores, but they must also offer them the option of purchasing content within their apps themselves, and they must route those sales through Apple which will then take its percentage."



This harmonizes with Apple's previous policy, enabling users to buy through iTunes (and allowing Apple to earn a cut for facilitating the convenience) without forcing all content to be purchased within iTunes. For example, Amazon can sell Kindle-DRM ebooks directly from its website or through its own Kindle device, and iOS Kindle app users can sync those purchases to their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.



Apple has never supported in-app sales of content within apps that bypass its iTunes payment system however, an issue that has irritated the music labels, movie studios, newspaper and magazine publishers, and now, Sony's Reader business.



Why Apple charges a cut



The company's newfound ability to earn a cut from software built to use and benefit from its platforms, starting with iPod games and moving through iPhone and iPad apps and the new Mac App Store, has enabled Apple to deliver a rich ecosystem of software that contributes to its device sales.



In its music and app stores, Apple is acting as a virtual mall developer, building markets that attract shoppers and charging vendors a cut to support the costs needed to build and operate the stores. Apple also manages promotion, merchandizing and sales fulfillment, enabling small developers and indie musicians to focus on their craft, leaving much of the business side to Apple.



While the company has always aspired to operate the iTunes Store as a break even business, the cut it takes from media and software sales enables it to deliver an attractive, curated market for content that has attracted users who previous refused to pay anything for music or apps, creating real markets for content to replace the "open" distribution of music, video, and mobile apps that have been devastated by direct piracy, copyright infringement, malware, and junkware.



Outside of iOS apps, Apple hasn't made iTunes the exclusive source for content, allowing third parties such as Amazon to sell music and ebooks that iOS users can play. It has however restricted third parties from selling DRM-protected music (including Windows Media Audio files sold through PlaysForSure stores), from offering iOS native apps intended for widespread distribution outside of iTunes (web apps offer the only wide-open iOS platform for third parties), and has examined other grey areas as well.



For example, Apple initially blocked Adobe from delivering native iOS apps created using its Flash Developer tools, a position it has since relaxed now that iPad and iPhone apps are well established as viable platforms.



Taking a cue from Nintendo



Tying third party apps to its platforms in the same way Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft promote exclusive games for their respective platforms (and similarly charge licensing fees from their developers, albeit much higher than Apple's cut) has also enabled Apple's iOS App Store to stand out and receive valuable third party promotion from broadcasters and advertisers directing their customers to iTunes.



Apple previously struggled for decades to attract third party software titles to its unique Macintosh platform; it did not directly benefit from very profitable software sales of titles such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop and PageMaker, applications which originated on the Mac, profited from its existence, and then jumped ship to support Windows, taking the value of Apple's platform and directly transferring it to Microsoft.



With the shoe now on the other foot, Apple appears unlikely to ever relinquish control to third party developers that have historically demonstrated scant platform loyalty when it conflicted with their own profits. Apple's iTunes markets now drive their own traffic, making it hard for developers, studios, and labels to refuse to offer their content through Apple.



Apple plays hardball



NBC Universal pulled its content from iTunes for a year in late 2007 before it came crawling back ready to play. And while neither Microsoft nor Adobe have moved their mainstream apps to the new Mac App Store yet, both have experimented with new iOS apps and have expressed an interest in expanding their app availability through Apple.



If Sony fails to establish its position on the iOS App Store, it will likely continue to be blown out of the water by competitors who have, including Amazon and Barns and Noble.



Sony--and Nintendo--may also eventually find themselves willing to support game sales through the iOS App Store, something both currently view as anathema. Both are still working to build their own new generations of portable gaming hardware, even as smartphones eat into the market for standalone players.



Sony has announced a plan to bring original PlayStation titles to Google's Android, but the software markets on that platform are currently dysfunctional and not attracting users or developers.
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Comments

  • bcahill009bcahill009 Posts: 163member
    My only thought to this is that Apple made Amazon aware this was coming and allowed them to somehow plan for it. I guess we will see in the next couple days, but I don't see the kindle app being pulled
  • enjournienjourni Posts: 254member
    PR gobblygook. Obviously an app that is referencing a competing store is not going to also sell the same product on apple's iBookstore, it defeats the purpose. In other words "don't sell stuff outside of our store", which is what we knew from the beginning.
  • akf2000akf2000 Posts: 223member
    This is bullshit. If it makes Kindle books 30% more expensive I'm going to go totally Cambodia.
  • hodgkinhodgkin Posts: 20member
    Can/do the guidelines make any restrictions on pricing?
  • lggeeklggeek Posts: 7member
    Apple is becoming abusive with their position , just because you buy a record player from someone doesn't mean they can say you can't play any records not bought from us. It's time for the federal government to look into Apple's practice with the app store and their effort to squash any alternative stores ( Cydia).
  • tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    This doesn't effect the Kindle or the Nook in any way. They already operate within the rules.



    Sony attempted to add their own proprietary in-app store, which is clearly against the rules.
  • tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    You aren't understanding the problem. Sony is attempting to add their own proprietary store on the back of the success of iOS. Apple isn't allowing Sony to do that.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lggeek View Post


    Apple is becoming abusive with their position , just because you buy a record player from someone doesn't mean they can say you can't play any records not bought from us. It's time for the federal government to look into Apple's practice with the app store and their effort to squash any alternative stores ( Cydia).



  • akf2000akf2000 Posts: 223member
    The key sentence is: "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."



    Kindle iOS App: Does allow purchare outside app, therefore is/ has always been required to offer in-app purchase.



    What effect will this have?
  • rigelianrigelian Posts: 44member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post


    This doesn't effect the Kindle or the Nook in any way. They already operate within the rules.



    Sony attempted to add their own proprietary in-app store, which is clearly against the rules.



    It seems that Apple's plans would impact Kindle and Nook. Apparently Apple is insisting on their 30% cut.



    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...book-sales.ars
  • freddychfreddych Posts: 266member
    Who cares? Just buy a kindle. If you can afford an iPad, you can afford a Kindle.
  • xian zhu xuandexian zhu xuande Posts: 801member
    I don't like where this is headed. Rather than enforcing rules as is—something which is reasonable—Apple needs to make them a little more flexible. 30% cut on the book market (e.g. Amazon) is not viable for them, and if truly enforced, will leave the iOS users without these applications for accessing third-party content. It would set a dangerous precedent, disappoint users, and it would reduce my interest in investing into the iBookstore.



    I'm not going to get too caught up in this. These situations usually get resolved in time, and Apple rarely pushes the envelope too far in this regard. We'll see...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post


    PR gobblygook. Obviously an app that is referencing a competing store is not going to also sell the same product on apple's iBookstore, it defeats the purpose. In other words "don't sell stuff outside of our store", which is what we knew from the beginning.



    They're not saying they have to go through iBookstore. It sounds, rather, that they're saying an in-app purchase solution must also be made available (presumably giving them the 30% cut, which would destroy book profits for companies like Sony, B&N, Amazon).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by freddych View Post


    Who cares? Just buy a kindle. If you can afford an iPad, you can afford a Kindle.



    Problem here is that I don't want to any more invested in Amazon's proprietary marketplace either...
  • damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lggeek View Post


    Apple is becoming abusive with their position , just because you buy a record player from someone doesn't mean they can say you can't play any records not bought from us. It's time for the federal government to look into Apple's practice with the app store and their effort to squash any alternative stores ( Cydia).



    You just don't get it it. Why should Apple allow someone to advertise on iTunes to sell a product somewhere else exclusively - Apple has said that they have to make it available thru the iTunes App Store. They did not say they could not sell it anywhere else (unlike some of the handroid store rules).



    I am not aware of Apple taking any steps to quash Cydia. They have not sat by idly and made it easy to jailbreak but that is quite different. Do you also think it is a great idea to steal Apple's IP and create a Hackintosh and support companies like Psystar who sell computers and Rebel EFI to allow people to ripoff and run the Mac OS X on a computer Apple never licensed it for? I think you would quickly find very little software of any real value.
  • yuusharoyuusharo Posts: 311member
    Well this is certainly a sad state of affairs. Apple's pissed that competitors are skirting around their 30% cut by offering purchases outside the App Store, so now they're enforcing a rule that they were keen to ignore earlier. Talk about bait and switch. Let's have all these successful models enjoy freedom on iOS for a year, then suddenly impose the keeper's fee.



    This is a shakedown if you think about it. Apple doesn't like people selling products on their turf, so now they want their cut.
  • tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    The question being the 30%. Is that 30% profiting Apple directly. Or is it paying for the maintenance and upkeep of the App Store that the Kindle and Nook are directly profiting from.



    Free apps that have purchases outside of the App Store are getting a free ride from those that have direct purchases within the app store, and do pay their 30%.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rigelian View Post


    It seems that Apple's plans would impact Kindle and Nook. Apparently Apple is insisting on their 30% cut.



  • n42n42 Posts: 34member
    while I do see the business motive behind this, there's also a key design choice: maintaining control over purchases within apps helps prevent mischievous developers from creating fraudulent purchases, stealing credit cards, etc.. making sure that the user is suspicious when there's a purchase screen they don't recognize. that kind of thing.
  • tjwtjw Posts: 216member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


    You just don't get it it. Why should Apple allow someone to advertise on iTunes to sell a product somewhere else exclusively.



    Because it is common courtesy. Apple sell you the platform and then you should be able to choose how you want to use it.



    Let's look at the mac then. Why should apple let you install software on your mac that is not from the mac app store where apple gets a 30% cut. EXACTLY the same.



    You are a victim of apple marketing. Why should the mobile platform be so so different?



    Apple is getting more and more like '1984' every day.



    They have banned people who have a magazine subscription from getting free access on the equivalent iPad apps for God sake. It's a joke.



    They should be happy making stonking big profits on great consumer products not being even more greedy to weed out a little extra on ebooks. Bloody hell.
  • tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Do you feel its fair for Amazon and B&N to directly profit from the App Store while contributing nothing back to the App Store?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by yuusharo View Post


    This is a shakedown if you think about it. Apple doesn't like people selling products on their turf, so now they want their cut.



  • AppleInsiderAppleInsider Kasper's Automated Slave Posts: 29,664member
    Apple issued a surprisingly timely response to a claim made by the New York Times that suggested the company might bar iOS apps that sell content outside of Apple's software market within iTunes.



    The original report was based on comments from Sony, which said its ebook Reader app had failed to pass Apple's approval process because its in-app sales weren't going through Apple.



    Writing for the New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft wrote the Apple is "further tightening its control of the App Store," and then speculated that this might spell the last days for similar apps, including Amazon's Kindle ebook title, which like Sony Reader, competes against Apple's own iBook app.



    However, Wall Street Journal blogger John Paczkowski has reported official comment from Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller, who said the company has not "changed our developer terms or guidelines," while noting that "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."



    That would be the reverse of the situation reported by the Times, and also makes more sense. Pulling popular titles such as Kindle, and similar content-access apps including Dropbox, Hulu+, Netflix and Pandora, would do little to benefit Apple.



    In-app option required, but not exclusive



    Instead, as Paczkowski explained, "Apple wants its cut on sales enabled by its iOS devices, it has an established guideline that allows it to take it and that?s what it?s doing.



    "Developers are still free to send customers to their own Web stores, but they must also offer them the option of purchasing content within their apps themselves, and they must route those sales through Apple which will then take its percentage."



    This harmonizes with Apple's previous policy, enabling users to buy through iTunes (and allowing Apple to earn a cut for facilitating the convenience) without forcing all content to be purchased within iTunes. For example, Amazon can sell Kindle-DRM ebooks directly from its website or through its own Kindle device, and iOS Kindle app users can sync those purchases to their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.



    Apple has never supported in-app sales of content within apps that bypass its iTunes payment system however, an issue that has irritated the music labels, movie studios, newspaper and magazine publishers, and now, Sony's Reader business.



    Why Apple charges a cut



    The company's newfound ability to earn a cut from software built to use and benefit from its platforms, starting with iPod games and moving through iPhone and iPad apps and the new Mac App Store, has enabled Apple to deliver a rich ecosystem of software that contributes to its device sales.



    In its music and app stores, Apple is acting as a virtual mall developer, building markets that attract shoppers and charging vendors a cut to support the costs needed to build and operate the stores. Apple also manages promotion, merchandizing and sales fulfillment, enabling small developers and indie musicians to focus on their craft, leaving much of the business side to Apple.



    While the company has always aspired to operate the iTunes Store as a break even business, the cut it takes from media and software sales enables it to deliver an attractive, curated market for content that has attracted users who previous refused to pay anything for music or apps, creating real markets for content to replace the "open" distribution of music, video, and mobile apps that have been devastated by direct piracy, copyright infringement, malware, and junkware.



    Outside of iOS apps, Apple hasn't made iTunes the exclusive source for content, allowing third parties such as Amazon to sell music and ebooks that iOS users can play. It has however restricted third parties from selling DRM-protected music (including Windows Media Audio files sold through PlaysForSure stores), from offering iOS native apps intended for widespread distribution outside of iTunes (web apps offer the only wide-open iOS platform for third parties), and has examined other grey areas as well.



    For example, Apple initially blocked Adobe from delivering native iOS apps created using its Flash Developer tools, a position it has since relaxed now that iPad and iPhone apps are well established as viable platforms.



    Taking a cue from Nintendo



    Tying third party apps to its platforms in the same way Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft promote exclusive games for their respective platforms (and similarly charge licensing fees from their developers, albeit much higher than Apple's cut) has also enabled Apple's iOS App Store to stand out and receive valuable third party promotion from broadcasters and advertisers directing their customers to iTunes.



    Apple previously struggled for decades to attract third party software titles to its unique Macintosh platform; it did not directly benefit from very profitable software sales of titles such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop and PageMaker, applications which originated on the Mac, profited from its existence, and then jumped ship to support Windows, taking the value of Apple's platform and directly transferring it to Microsoft.



    With the shoe now on the other foot, Apple appears unlikely to ever relinquish control to third party developers that have historically demonstrated scant platform loyalty when it conflicted with their own profits. Apple's iTunes markets now drive their own traffic, making it hard for developers, studios, and labels to refuse to offer their content through Apple.



    Apple plays hardball



    NBC Universal pulled its content from iTunes for a year in late 2007 before it came crawling back ready to play. And while neither Microsoft nor Adobe have moved their mainstream apps to the new Mac App Store yet, both have experimented with new iOS apps and have expressed an interest in expanding their app availability through Apple.



    If Sony fails to establish its position on the iOS App Store, it will likely continue to be blown out of the water by competitors who have, including Amazon and Barns and Noble.



    Sony--and Nintendo--may also eventually find themselves willing to support game sales through the iOS App Store, something both currently view as anathema. Both are still working to build their own new generations of portable gaming hardware, even as smartphones eat into the market for standalone players.



    Sony has announced a plan to bring original PlayStation titles to Google's Android, but the software markets on that platform are currently dysfunctional and not attracting users or developers.
  • ianmac47ianmac47 Posts: 43member
    If Apple keeps this sort of behavior up, they are going to have an exciting anti-trust suit on their hands. Major corporations with competing products -- Sony, Amazon -- are not going to simply standby and allow their business models undermined by Apple, especially if that means Apple is going to take a cut of every purchase.
  • tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    You guys seem to think that 30% is money that goes right into Apple's pocket. It does not. It costs Apple a lot of money to maintain the App Stores. The more developers that use the App Stores the more money it costs Apple to maintain them. That 30% is a lot less than it would cost developers to build and maintain their own app stores.



    I don't think it unreasonable for developers that profit from the App Store to contribute to its upkeep.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    Let's look at the mac then. Why should apple let you install software on your mac that is not from the mac app store where apple gets a 30% cut. EXACTLY the same.



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