Steve Jobs emails reveal why iOS users can't buy Kindle books

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Newly unearthed documents made public by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee as part of an investigation into big tech reveal why users can't buy Kindle books on iOS.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


As part of its ongoing investigation into tech company dominance, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee has unearthed a trove of internal Apple documents and communications. Some of those communications happen to be from Jobs himself.

Two sets of those communications -- emails, specifically -- reveal the discussions that led to restrictions on buying digital books from third-party platforms such as Amazon. The emails were first spotted by The Verge.

In 2010, Apple SVP of marketing and App Store chief Phil Schiller wrote to Jobs and other Apple executives to explain an Amazon Kindle commercial that touted the cross-platform capabilities of the service.

"While the primary message is that there are Kindle apps on lots of mobile devices, the secondary message ... is that it is easy to switch from iPhone to Android," Schiller wrote. "Not fun to watch."

In response, Jobs wrote back, "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out. And I think it's time to begin applying this uniformly except for existing subscriptions (but applying it for new ones)."

Another conversation laid out a draft of Apple's subscription policies around February 2011. Apple eventually launched subscriptions on the App Store that year, alongside new rules that prompted Amazon and other booksellers to remove the option to buy books in-app.

"I think this is all pretty simple -- iBooks is going to be the only bookstore on iOS devices. We need to hold our heads high. One can read books bought elsewhere, just not buy/rent/subscribe from iOS without paying us, which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things," Jobs wrote.

During Wednesday's House hearing on antitrust, Rep. Lucy McBath questioned Apple CEO Tim Cook about why an app from Random House was blocked from the App Store.

She alleged that it was part of a strategy to coerce the publisher to join the iBooks platform. Cook, for his part, didn't answer the question explicitly and stated that there were many reasons why an app may be blocked.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,527member
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    cornchiplightvox88DancingMonkeyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 21
    cabassicabassi Posts: 23member
    I don’t understand how making Amazon use Apple’s payment mechanism (or “bow out”) addresses the problem of the Kindle app being cross-platform and making it easy to switch from iOS to Android. Can someone explain that to me?
    edited July 2020 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    digitoldigitol Posts: 241member
    Not sure why this is relevant. The guy is dead. (RIP Steve) The Cook, as CEO can change/do whatever he wants with the Apple ways/culture. I keep coming to the same conclusion. I hate the Apple of today, but it's sure a hell of a lot better than anything else out there.
    muthuk_vanalingamnapoleon_phoneapartwilliamhbaconstangrazorpitrandominternetperson
  • Reply 4 of 21
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,756member
    cabassi said:
    I don’t understand how making Amazon use Apple’s payment mechanism (or “bow out”) addresses the problem of the Kindle app being cross-platform and making it easy to switch from iOS to Android. Can someone explain that to me?
    They wanted a cut for the ease of purchases on iOS from content providers that ultimately fed & propped up poor CX on other platforms. Whilst the customer has paid for the device, the content provider got better market access for free.
    Developers get better returns from iOS thanks to Apple. They should pay.
    Beatsrepressthiswilliamhpscooter63gilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,740member
    iOS users can—and do—buy Kindle books. Just not directly from within the Kindle app on their iPhone.

    In fact, on an iPhone, external links to Kindle books automatically redirect through the Amazon app to the related Amazon.com URL in Safari where they can be purchased, due to some fancy footwork using custom URL schemes.

    This article deserves a more accurate headline.
    bshankDogpersonpscooter63gilly33
  • Reply 6 of 21
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,084member
    This was settled a long time ago when the government spanked Apple hard and let Amazon skate. Now they’re complaining about it again and are surprised Amazon has been abusing their power for years. 
    fotoformatbshankDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    This was settled a long time ago when the government spanked Apple hard and let Amazon skate. Now they’re complaining about it again and are surprised Amazon has been abusing their power for years. 
    Amazon’s KDP platform explicitly prohibits writers from selling their books on other platforms. 

    And no one bats an eyelid.  🙄

    baconstangbshankdewmepscooter63lightvox88randominternetpersongilly33watto_cobrajony0FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 21
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    Funny that your username is Beats. Who originally had a marketing deal with Samsung. When Apple saw how successful the cross-marketing deal between Beats and Samsung (the ones that heavily featured LeBron James at the peak of his popularity) was at moving Galaxy devices in urban areas they responded ... by buying Beats. This - unlike your false version of history - actually happened. 

    Reality check 1: the year Steve Jobs passed away Android already had 47% market share and was growing by leaps and bounds year by year. 
    Reality check 2: Android became large due to differentiating, differentiating, differentiating.

    They offered A) devices that allowed you to do more than iOS devices did thanks to a combination of a less restrictive operating system AND hardware and software features that existed on Android years - and in some cases many years - before they appeared on iPhones and iPads.

    They offered B) devices that offered comparable - or at least capable - functionality for 1/2 and even 1/3 the cost of iPhones.

    They offered C) devices that were in different form factors than Apple's one-size-fits-all 3.5' (later 4') iPhone and 9.7' iPad.

    They - and especially Samsung offered D) a different image from Apple and its users (see my initial Beats/LeBron James paragraph).

    Meanwhile, the Apple imitators? They all failed. The phones that Samsung were sued for infringement over? Didn't sell. Their Galaxy S/Note phones that offered bigger screens and the drastically different - and much mocked by Apple fans - TouchWiz UI? Made Samsung the #1 smartphone company in the world. Xiaomi? Did great with their iPhone knockoffs ... until Huawei and BBK (who owns Oppo, OnePlus and Redmi) came along with more traditional Android devices that absolutely crushed them. No one even talks about "the Apple of China" anymore. Oh and Google's attempts to replicate the iPhone's hardware and software philosophy with their Pixel phones? Selling so horribly that the carriers - especially Verizon - are threatening to ditch them. 

    Reality check 3: Android became large due to companies with a proven track record at hardware and software making great products that people wanted to buy. Claiming otherwise is an exercise in self-delusion. It would require believing that all of these very successful global companies are competent at everything else - so much so that Apple patronizes the likes of Google (cloud services), Qualcomm (components), Sony (ditto), LG (ditto plus monitors) and Samsung (ditto) - but smartphones. And then there are CONSUMERS. You would need to believe that the 50% of U.S. smartphone buyers, 65% of global tablet buyers and 85% of global smartphone buyers are for some reason purchasing year after year devices that are incapable of allowing them to watch videos, play games, send/receive text messages/emails/video calls and do productivity tasks. But Android devices - from the $35 Fire TV sticks to the $2000 Samsung Galaxy foldable phones and everything in between - do work and work well.

    Reality check 4: since the iPhone 5, Apple has been incorporating features widely used in Samsung Galaxy phones into their own devices so much so that current iPhones and iPads more closely resemble Galaxy S, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab devices than iPhones and iPads from 2013 and prior. So who has been stealing, stealing, stealing from who? 
    elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 21
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 289member
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    Naive. Android is larger but Apple is the clear winner here in terms of profit. Android IS a wasteland due to Samsung and all the other vendors making their own crap. 
    Steve would have ended up in many hearings instead, hurting Apple in the long run. Times have changed quite a bit and I feel Tim is handling it very well. Much more humane, but also politically sensitive which is needed in the dire state America is in. And Apple has become a better place to work.
    civarandominternetpersonDogpersonwatto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 10 of 21
    fred1fred1 Posts: 829member
    Oops. Misread it before commenting.  :#
    edited July 2020
  • Reply 11 of 21
    This was settled a long time ago when the government spanked Apple hard and let Amazon skate. Now they’re complaining about it again and are surprised Amazon has been abusing their power for years. 
    That lawsuit has nothing to do with what is in this article. It was about collusion with publishers and price fixing. 
  • Reply 12 of 21
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,084member
    This was settled a long time ago when the government spanked Apple hard and let Amazon skate. Now they’re complaining about it again and are surprised Amazon has been abusing their power for years. 
    That lawsuit has nothing to do with what is in this article. It was about collusion with publishers and price fixing. 
    It is related. Amazon and Apple we’re having a spat about who’s books can be on who’s platform. This was a retaliatory measure because Amazon would not agree to Job’s plan. 

    The title is misleading as you can buy books on iOS for kindle, you just have to use Amazon’s app or website to purchase them.  Just like other companies who don’t want to use Apple’s payment system. You can buy maps, other books, unlock free apps by going to the developers website and purchasing a code. That is how a lot of developers circumvented Apple’s cut. 

    Like I said awhile ago, Apple could have addressed any developer spats about revenue cuts during WWDC and had enough information to show the judiciary committee that Apple is in talks to renegotiate how much they charge developers. They could have a 3 tier system that charges more or less depending on what Apple services the app uses like iCloud. The problem is when you get the government involved, the consumer usually doesn’t see any benefit ala Microsoft. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    civaciva Posts: 78member
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    Reality check 3: Android became large due to companies with a proven track record at hardware and software making great products that people wanted to buy. Claiming otherwise is an exercise in self-delusion. It would require believing that all of these very successful global companies are competent at everything else - so much so that Apple patronizes the likes of Google (cloud services), Qualcomm (components), Sony (ditto), LG (ditto plus monitors) and Samsung (ditto) - but smartphones. And then there are CONSUMERS. You would need to believe that the 50% of U.S. smartphone buyers, 65% of global tablet buyers and 85% of global smartphone buyers are for some reason purchasing year after year devices that are incapable of allowing them to watch videos, play games, send/receive text messages/emails/video calls and do productivity tasks. But Android devices - from the $35 Fire TV sticks to the $2000 Samsung Galaxy foldable phones and everything in between - do work and work well.
    Android saturated the market because it was cheaper, since the company that developed it was basically giving it away, in order to be in all the smart phones around the world. 
    Google and alphabet are extremely intrusive companies. They're venture capital firm is InQTel, which is a subsidiary of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

    That is why Android got huge. No other reason. 
    Dogpersonelijahgwatto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 14 of 21
    This Kindle book purchase limitation is only the very tip of the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to missing features in iOS apps. You literally cannot imagine the lost functionality in iOS apps due to restrictions placed on them by Apple. A third party app store, even one used by a small percentage of iOS users and devices, would expose what iOS users have been missing out on for the past decade. It would also prompt Apple to expand its SDK and make iOS products better in the long run.
    elijahg
  • Reply 15 of 21
    civaciva Posts: 78member
    This Kindle book purchase limitation is only the very tip of the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to missing features in iOS apps. You literally cannot imagine the lost functionality in iOS apps due to restrictions placed on them by Apple. A third party app store, even one used by a small percentage of iOS users and devices, would expose what iOS users have been missing out on for the past decade. It would also prompt Apple to expand its SDK and make iOS products better in the long run.
    And open the ios platform to massive security holes. 
    No thank you. 
    bonobobDogpersonyoyo2222watto_cobrahippo
  • Reply 16 of 21
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    Apple’s policy probably added a bit of fire behind Kindle Unlimited, a subscription model for reading books.  I also purchase ebooks from Amazon.

    I’ve never read (or bought) a book from iBooks, and never will.  I own both an iPad and iPhone, but 10 years from now I could be reading on another platform.  iBooks lack of cross platform compatibility makes it dead to me.

    I did make the mistake of buying 10 songs from Apple.  But, everything else is from Amazon... including movies.

    I use Apple’s products because they’re better, but I’ve avoided any kind of platform lock-in... it’s just not worth the future potential headache.

    The only “spend” on services within Apple would have to be with a subscription model, anything else would be a poor value when taking future uncertainty into account.  

    When Apple locks down the platform in the name of security, I buy in.  But, theIr policies/actions elsewhere are questionable and lose them $$$.  
    bonobob
  • Reply 17 of 21
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,901member
    civa said:
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    Reality check 3: Android became large due to companies with a proven track record at hardware and software making great products that people wanted to buy. Claiming otherwise is an exercise in self-delusion. It would require believing that all of these very successful global companies are competent at everything else - so much so that Apple patronizes the likes of Google (cloud services), Qualcomm (components), Sony (ditto), LG (ditto plus monitors) and Samsung (ditto) - but smartphones. And then there are CONSUMERS. You would need to believe that the 50% of U.S. smartphone buyers, 65% of global tablet buyers and 85% of global smartphone buyers are for some reason purchasing year after year devices that are incapable of allowing them to watch videos, play games, send/receive text messages/emails/video calls and do productivity tasks. But Android devices - from the $35 Fire TV sticks to the $2000 Samsung Galaxy foldable phones and everything in between - do work and work well.
    Android saturated the market because it was cheaper, since the company that developed it was basically giving it away, in order to be in all the smart phones around the world. 
    Google and alphabet are extremely intrusive companies. They're venture capital firm is InQTel, which is a subsidiary of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

    That is why Android got huge. No other reason. 
    There are a ton of other reasons. 

    You can get an Android phone to meet far more of your requirements than you can an iPhone. 

    No one can deny this and Android phones were in the $1,000 plus range long before Apple went there. The difference is, from a $1,500 Android phone you can scale down through literally every price segment to the very cheapest options.

    Want a gaming phone? 
    Want an enormous screen? 
    Want extra long battery life? 
    Want a rugged phone? 
    Want a folding phone? 
    Want 5G?
    Want super fast charging? 
    Want super fast wireless charging? 
    Want reverse charging? 
    Want ultra fast WiFi 6?
    Want far more control over the OS? 
    Want camera versatility?
    Want dual frequency GPS? 

    The list is as long as people's needs virtually. 

    If you're happy with what Apple decides you can get and the price they offer, then fine but clearly people like being able to choose from a massive variety of features across the full spectrum of phones. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 18 of 21
    civaciva Posts: 78member
    avon b7 said:
    civa said:
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    Reality check 3: Android became large due to companies with a proven track record at hardware and software making great products that people wanted to buy. Claiming otherwise is an exercise in self-delusion. It would require believing that all of these very successful global companies are competent at everything else - so much so that Apple patronizes the likes of Google (cloud services), Qualcomm (components), Sony (ditto), LG (ditto plus monitors) and Samsung (ditto) - but smartphones. And then there are CONSUMERS. You would need to believe that the 50% of U.S. smartphone buyers, 65% of global tablet buyers and 85% of global smartphone buyers are for some reason purchasing year after year devices that are incapable of allowing them to watch videos, play games, send/receive text messages/emails/video calls and do productivity tasks. But Android devices - from the $35 Fire TV sticks to the $2000 Samsung Galaxy foldable phones and everything in between - do work and work well.
    Android saturated the market because it was cheaper, since the company that developed it was basically giving it away, in order to be in all the smart phones around the world. 
    Google and alphabet are extremely intrusive companies. They're venture capital firm is InQTel, which is a subsidiary of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

    That is why Android got huge. No other reason. 
    There are a ton of other reasons. 

    You can get an Android phone to meet far more of your requirements than you can an iPhone. 

    No one can deny this and Android phones were in the $1,000 plus range long before Apple went there. The difference is, from a $1,500 Android phone you can scale down through literally every price segment to the very cheapest options.

    Want a gaming phone? 
    Want an enormous screen? 
    Want extra long battery life? 
    Want a rugged phone? 
    Want a folding phone? 
    Want 5G?
    Want super fast charging? 
    Want super fast wireless charging? 
    Want reverse charging? 
    Want ultra fast WiFi 6?
    Want far more control over the OS? 
    Want camera versatility?
    Want dual frequency GPS? 

    The list is as long as people's needs virtually. 

    If you're happy with what Apple decides you can get and the price they offer, then fine but clearly people like being able to choose from a massive variety of features across the full spectrum of phones. 
    I actually have a job, am busy, and barely have time to listen to youtube, or be on facebook, much less game on my phone. And when I am gaming, if and when I have time to do so, I have other appliances for that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,267member
    THIS (e-Books) is probably the major reason why I did not get an iPhone till the iPhone 5.
     
    No, it wasn't Kindle and it wasn't Amazon.   But, as a fairly newly minted RN I wanted immediate access to a host of medical manuals that I carried in my pocket on a Palm Powered device (I had several). Steve famously described the iPod as a "a 1,000 songs in your pocket".   Well, I had thousands of pages of medical manuals in my pocket that I didn't want to give up by going to an iPhone.  Apple and the publishers of those books could never come to an agreement so they never appeared on an iOS device.

    It was a functional deficiency of the iPhone that I simply could not accept.
  • Reply 20 of 21
    Beats said:
    "It's time for [Amazon] to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out."

    I miss the old Apple. I feel Cook lacks the backbone Steve had. Android would have been a wasteland had Steve still been alive. Android has become large due to stealing, stealing, stealing.
    I miss the old Apple, but not because of this. 

    I miss the attention to the finest detail on OX X (macOS). All versions of OS X were perfected with each interaction, all hardwire to that point it was all fully compatible - and you had all the tools out of the box. What happened to iWeb? Try to make a website now on macOS, out of the box. IT's awful. And try to connect iPod version 1 (yes the first one, I have it) in macOS Catalina. Better yet, try to connect s freaking iPhone 4 and restore it using Finder. It's a pain. 

    But who cares if Android is stealing, and getting bigger or not... I, for one, got tired of this 'rivalry' in tech - Google is awful, and the best we can do about its to ignore it, even if they are a shameful copy. Just don't give them the attention, they will get hurt by that..  Apple should be worried about the old day's quality control, not the competition. Apple is where it s now because of quality and attention used to give to Pro users - the ones that hang on to the company even when it was on a brick to bankrupt. 

    It seems Apple forgot about them - and can only focus on the consumer market now. Yeah money money money. Too bad. 

    iPhone PRO is not the answer for us, pro users. That was a joke to excuse a higher price, Giving the elite pro users a 11,000 MacPro is not the answer either. Fuck Apple for that.

    And I'm a Apple fan.

    edited August 2020 elijahg
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