Apple issues statement on ebook sales

Apple issues statement on ebook sales

Summary: Apple has issued a statement relating to App Store policy change with regards to ebook sales.

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Apple has issued a statement relating to App Store policy change with regards to ebook sales.

This in from Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller:

"We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines. 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."

This is different to the statement made by Sony which indicated that Apple had said that all purchases must be made as in-app purchases.

What does this mean for Amazon with the Kindle app and Barnes & Noble with the Nook app? Well, it will mean that if this statement from Apple is accurate then the app will also need to offer books as an in-app purchase. Since Apple takes a 30% cut of the sales price, then it seems likely that ebooks bought as in-app purchases will cost 30% more than if bought direct from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

A few thoughts:

  • Has there been a policy change or not? Apple's statement doesn't make sense - how can the Kindle and Nook apps have been approved is there was a requirement to have content available for purchase in-app?
  • This cash grab by Apple feels clumsy to me, especially if the company still wants to grab 30% of the in-app price. The only way the market can cope with this is differential pricing.
  • Differential pricing is likely to harm consumers, so expect regulators to be interested in this move.
  • It's also likely to be harmful to Apple. Nonsense like differential pricing will confuse consumers and make Android tablets seem like a better option.
  • Would people pay 30% more for a 1-click in-app purchase of an ebook?
  • Does the likes of Amazon have the power to strong-arm this 30% down to something more manageable (and reasonable)?
  • I still don't see the Kindle app being yanked from iTunes over this.
  • Does Apple plan to make iBooks app part of the iOS rather than being an optional download as it is now?

Lots of questions, little in the way of answers.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Enterprise Software, Mobility

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48 comments
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  • Yet another Apple 'control issue'?

    Me thinks so.
    Folks,
    Don't like being told what to do?
    That's what Apple is yet again angling in on.
    More control.

    Don't give up your right to 'choice'.
    You get all you can take with Linux and Android is there to meet your ebook needs however you want to make your purchase.

    So, come on over to the Linux World and be happy.
    No control issues.

    I stake my reputation on it.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • Uh, this _IS_ choice.

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate It seems to me that the rule change says that if Sony, or anyone else, allows the users to buy outside the app that they must also allow the option to buy <b>inside</b> the app, which of course means Apple will get 30%. It sounds rather fair. If you want to make it <i>really</i> easy for your customer Apple will do it for 30%, otherwise you can make it only <i>mostly</i> easy for nothing. <br><br>It's more or less the same as with music. If your customer buys a CD they can rip it themselves to iTunes or you can let Apple sell the music to them directly for 30%.
      matthew_maurice
      • Developers don't get that kind of treatment with Android

        @matthew_maurice
        Visit the Android Market for yourself.
        If a developer wants to rely on spawning to a 3rd party via a browser session, then so be it.

        Apple again wants for their own interests to restrict how Apps should be coded.

        iOS Developers free yourselves and code Android Apps!
        Google wants you! Apply within at:

        h-t-t-p://www.google.com
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • Why should Apple get a bite?

        @matthew_maurice
        Why do you consider Apple getting 30% of any in app purchase revenue "rather fair?"

        The download of any content does not pass through any Apple infrastructure as Apple does not proxy any 3rd party iOS traffic. So it costs them nothing.

        What next? Paying Apple a percentage to watch a Netflix movie through the iOS app? Paying Apple a percentage of any eBay fees when you buy something through the eBay app? Perhaps they want a 30% cut when I pay a bill through the Bank of America app?
        dazzlingd
      • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

        @matthew_maurice
        Doesn't sound fair at all, actually, but keep on drinking that kool aid!
        Droid101
      • Because iOS is their world

        @dazzlingd We all just play in it. Whether that's right or wrong is beside the point. Apple created the ecosystem, so they get to make the rules. To most people it appears that they did such a good job that people, consumers and developers, are falling over themselves to be a part of it. This gives Apple the leverage to run iOS how they want to. Anyone who objects can buy, or develop for, an Android or WP7 device. The reality is pretty much that a lot of people are willing to put up with it. <i>That</i> is why Apple gets 30%.
        matthew_maurice
      • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

        @matthew_maurice
        chuckle......
        Why I don't by any music, video or books from Apple.
        Amazon, B&N and Google are much cheaper.
        Better selection for my tastes too.
        :)
        rhonin
      • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

        @matthew_maurice <br><br>Yeah, and if you own a Toyota and drive to the mall, send Mr. Toyoda a check, while you're at it.
        man_strosity
      • Of course they can undercut Apple

        @zenwalker

        They unload all the support costs of selling through an iPad app. Hell, why even bother manufacturing their own device to sell at cost when they can leech off the app store and leave the headaches of device support to Apple while collecting their respective cuts from the publishers. What a GREAT deal for them.
        oncall
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      Don't you worry my Linux advocate. Your precious little Google will generate the same $$$ whether that click, they depend so much on, comes from an iOS device or WP7 device or an Android device.
      As for Linux users being happy or happier, I wouldn't stake my reputation on it.
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • Oh Marla there you go again.

        @MG537 nt
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>Hardly. Apple is saying that an in-app purchase must be an option NOT the only one.

      Let's break down their statement, shall we?

      [b]?We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines. 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.?[/b] The relevant part here is: [b][u]the same option is also available to customers from within the app[/u][/b]

      What is so hard for all of you ABAers and Apple Haters - and yes Linux Advocates - to understand? This rule is simply giving the consumer a choice between purchasing in the app - for convenience I'd imagine - and purchasing outside the app as the Kindle, B&N, etc. do now.

      So what does this do to your reputation Dietrich? Still smarting from the "Android Steamroller" comment just before the whole Galaxy Tab sales figures fiasco, huh?
      athynz
      • It's not for Convenience...

        @athynz : It's so Apple can take a cut of the $$$. This is nothing more than Apple backtracking on their previous wording that banned all purchases of content not made on the app-store. Which, when you think about it, could actually have been construed as Apple wanting a cut of ANYTHING bought via the device. THAT would have torqued customers to no end.

        This declaration is nothing but them covering their rears.

        The problem with ebooks is that ever since the Amazon vs. publishers battle, the ebook prices are set by the PUBLISHERS, not the retailer, so they either raise the prices for in-app sales, or they possibly LOSE money on every sale because they have to pay the publishers a predetermined rate.

        Raising book prices on the app will bring lawsuits by users that feel wronged, so now they (Amazon and B&N) are in a no-win situation where they may have to remove the app because they can't please both the publishers AND the customers. Apple comes out smelling like roses because now they have the eBook market all to themselves on Apple devices and they didn't have the bad press of having the whole thing blamed on them because Amazon and B&N CHOSE to remove the apps themselves, not forced by Apple.

        Devious, Apple is. Greedy, they are.
        Zorched
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate Why is this so hard for people to understand. Apple is not stopping sales outside of the ap. I can still buy it through my normal places and read them my iPad. I get that Apple wants you to use them as a virtual store, but you are not forced to. I drive to 2 or 3 stores when shopping for the best price. That is in a car and it can be a big inconvieniance. So when buying books and music, you have to type to go to different sites and decide where the best value is. This does not seem like a huge inconvieniance. I really don't see why it is even a thought. I mean sure it sucks all in AP purchases will suck but Apple may start to see people not swallowing the Koolade and they made need to rethink their pricing and marketplace. The iPad gives people a way to get things they enjoy, Apple just like any business wants a piece of the pie.
      spikedstrider
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Nobody seems to be getting this right, STILL. And its not that hard once you carefully review the facts.

      The issues about in-app and out-of-app purchases is a matter of semantics and Trudy Muller didn't help with it.

      Apps like the Kindle app for iOS are not making purchases in OR out of the app. As soon as you select to shop for books, the app closes completely and opens a link to Amazon.com. You can purchase whatever you want through safari, as you always could, and that is not at issue.

      This is because, just like the Netflix app, the Kindle app serves ONLY to access data on an external server--specifically amazon servers. There is no purchasing going on in the app.

      Contrast this ith Sony's model, whereby purchases are done WITHIN the app but on an external server. Apple is requiring that any app that allows a purchase from within the app also accept the iTunes user's account as payment.

      So when she says in-app and out-of-app, what she means is in- and out-of-app-STORE, so that a users has the ability to expect to be able to pay for content without opening up a new account.

      Again, this is specific to purchases made within the app--which is not what the Amazon Kindle app does. Any app that accesses content purchased through a browser or any other method except inside the app is still within the bounds.
      lelandhendrix@...
  • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

    With reading the new BTL entry, "E-book sales will outpace app revenue by 2013"

    It's no wonder Apple wants in on it. :)

    Sneaky, sneaky.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      true but Apple really needs to take a hard look at their business model.
      I am a prodigious reader and generally prefer e-books.
      Since iBooks was launched, I have bought exactly 1 (yes one) book via Apple.
      Amazon, B&N and Google have much better selections and better prices.
      :)
      rhonin
  • Conversely.

    One could argue that the ease of 1-click, in-app purchasing is worth 30%, if not to the content provider than to the customer, otherwise it's a non-issue. As for differential pricing, either the provider makes the in-app purchase more expensive (to cover Apple's cut) or less expensive outside the app to encourage direct purchase. How is that bad for anyone? If the ease of the experience is worth it to the consumer they'll buy inside at an inflated price, and if it's not they'll go direct which cuts Apple out of the loop. As for Kindle and Nook apps, if they don't have in-app purchasing now, expect quick updates (I'm betting they've been briefed about the change in advance). Finally, it's my opinion that Apple makes most of these types of decisions after pretty careful analysis of what they've done before. It's pretty clear that Apple believes that in-app purchasing is worth 30% to [i]someone[/i] either the providers for the ease of retailing or the consumers for the ease of consuming.
    matthew_maurice
    • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

      @matthew_maurice umm, actually it's 42.9% it you want the two prices to come out the same. Do the math.
      fwelsh
      • RE: Apple issues statement on ebook sales

        @fwelsh

        We must have posted at roughly the same time...because when I started making my post below I can swear that yours wasn't here....
        Doctor Demento