Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

Summary: The news that Sony's Reader ebook app has been rejected from Apple's App Store has caused a tsunami of sensationalist speculation predicting that Amazon's Kindle app is living on borrowed time and is destined to be dumped.

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[UPDATE: Apple issues a statement, causes more confusion.]

The news that Sony's Reader ebook app has been rejected from Apple's App Store has caused a tsunami of sensationalist speculation predicting that Amazon's Kindle app is living on borrowed time and is destined to be dumped.

Not so fast!

Let's look at the facts before jumping to conclusions. We'll begin by looking at what Sony actually said.

Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division is mentioned in a piece in the NYT, but it's vague and not a direct quote:

Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.

Like I said it's vague, but cling on to that phrase "in-app purchases" for a moment.

Next, on Sony's Reader website, the company had this to say:

We would like to update everyone on the status of our Reader™ for iPhone® mobile application. We created an app that we’re very excited about, which includes all the features you’ve come to expect from a mobile reading application – including access to your existing collection, synching with your Reader Daily Edition™ and purchasing new content as is possible on other mobile platforms.

Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader™ for iPhone® from being available in the app store. We opened a dialog with Apple to see if we can come up with an equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this time. We’re exploring other avenues to bring the Reader experience to Apple mobile devices. We know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the application and we appreciate your continued patience.

The bit that stood out to me was this part:

"Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader™ for iPhone® from being available in the app store."

This is a curious statement. It implies that Sony was doing something that was previously considered OK, but now not. No specifics to go on here, but saying that Apple has changed the way it is enforcing a particular rule doesn't automatically mean that all apps that are similar to Sony's Reader ... say Amazon's Kindle app ... all fall under this blanket ban.

There's a key difference between Sony's Reader app and Amazon's Kindle app that seems to have escaped the attention of many tech pundits. Unlike the Kindle app, which uses the web browser to redirect users to the Amazon website to make purchases, Reader had greater built-in access to Sony's ebook store. While this definitely streamlines the purchasing/downloading/archiving process dramatically, but it also means that, in the strictest sense, that these purchases are "in-app purchases," meaning that Apple is entitled to a cut. Amazon's purchases on the other hand happen outside the app (you can buy them on the desktop or Kindle device too). Sony's mechanism isn't an "in app purchase" in the sense of dopwnloading a new game level, but the integration of the app to the Reader store seems greater than for the Kindle app. By comparison, the Kindle app is very basic ... you have access to downloaded books, and an archive list. That's it. It's basic for a reason ... Apple's rules force it to be like that.

Sony tried to play fast and loose with the idea of 'in app purchases' and got burned by a well-established Apple rule. Amazon's Kindle app on the other hand plays by the rules, making sure that all purchasing happens outside of the app.

Pretty simple really.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Apple, Apps, Hardware

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57 comments
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  • Pretty simple really.

    Yeah - Don't buy Apple devices. Enjoy the freedoms of others out there.

    Apple changes the app store rules more than Bart Simpson changed his underwear. I'm almost afraid of buying an iPhone, in part because of this. Not that I use many apps to begin with, how long would it be before a killer app gets the hammer?

    "Desktop" widgets - BANNED.
    Networking tools - BANNED.
    VLC Player - BANNED.
    Emulators - BANNED.
    Flash - BANNED.
    Sexual Material - BANNED.

    Which category of apps will Apple go on the war path against next?
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kick

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      Anything that they sell, read: movies, books, music
      hoaxoner
    • So what

      Except for VLC Player, the rest is garbage.

      No loss, there...
      LTV10
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        @LTV10
        Except for the fact that it isn't garbage. Just because you don't use Networking tools doesn't mean nobody does.
        Droid101
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        @LTV10
        I re-read the list just to double check.
        It's filled with things I use and love. What are you doing, angry birds 24/7?

        Life may be good inside the walled garden, but the rest of us prefer to consume content outside the vacuum of sterility on the iJobs
        Shrug
      • and Apple didn't ban VLC.. VLC did..

        @LTV10 the original license for the code didn't permit any more license restrictions be put on the code.. and this is a prerequisite for inclusion in the app store so a complaint was files and Apple complied.. Apple was actually forced to pull the app.. they didn't pull it or ban it.. they were forced to pull it..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        [i]Life may be good inside the walled garden, but the rest of us prefer to consume content outside the vacuum of sterility on the iJobs[/i]

        @shrug & @Droid101
        Then don't enter the garden! DOH!

        None of this is a surprise, people. If you can't deal with it, then stay away. Apple isn't taking any money out of [b]your[/b] pockets. You have other easily accessible choices out there.

        And yes, I still consider the rest garbage. Especially on a phone.

        [i]Apple was actually forced to pull the app.. they didn't pull it or ban it.. they were forced to pull it..[/i]

        @doctorSpoc - Thank you for the correction. Be sure to tell the two M$ whiners above, that.
        LTV10
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        @LTV10 No books from Amazon either. It is now official, Apple IS going after Amazon. It wasn't sensationalist.

        It's been clear for a while, but this makes it abundantly clear to anyone with a brain. Buying Apple products is STUPID. I own two iPhones. I know. Thankfully it was easy to kick the habit. For some it seems harder than Heroin though.
        terjeb
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        [i]It's been clear for a while, but this makes it abundantly clear to anyone with a brain. Buying Apple products is STUPID. I own two iPhones. I know. Thankfully it was easy to kick the habit. For some it seems harder than Heroin though.[/i]

        Two phones? Anyone with a brain?

        Well if that's the case, then it sounds like you don't have one.

        I'm not giving up my iPad over something as inconsequential as this. F-you.
        search & destroy
    • Welcome to Egypt.

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 Please visit our version of the web only.
      LarsDennert
    • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      I agree. I'm waiting for the day they require that you only use your iDevice while wearing at least one item of Apple logo clothing, available only in the iTunes store.
      1DaveN
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        @DaveN_MVP I'm ready for that, I already have my Apple t-shirt! ;-)
        levinson
  • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

    While I think (and hope) you are correct in your interpretation, there is also this, which I found in numerous articles:

    "The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store."

    The key phrase being "or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store." That certainly would include the Kindle app. Time will tell if they will also disallow Kindle books.
    redbirdpat
    • Time for a federal investigation

      @redbirdpat Sounds like monopolistic restraint of trade

      Just because an app is running on an iPhone, Apple expects a cut of anything purchased through the app? Sounds illegal.

      And of course since you can't get an app on your phone except through Apple's store it's exercising explicit monopoly control.
      archangel9999
      • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

        @archangel9999

        Just because I bought something for my Kindle from Amazon, Amazon expects a cut? Sounds illegal.
        msalzberg
      • It's only a monopolistic if there's no competition.

        @archangel9999 : People have a choice: Don't buy an iPhone or iPad. Buy an Android device instead.<br><br>As much as I hate to admit it, if you buy their hardware, they have every right to say in the purchase contract that they can control that hardware anyway they want. If the Sheeple line up and toss money in Apple's pockets in a slathering clamor to have themselves controlled, then they get what they deserve.<br><br>Of course, if the iPhone and the iPad had fallen flat, then there wouldn't be all the neat Android devices around either, so I guess we need the Sheeple for something after all.<br><br>Either Apple will reverse their course and bow to customer pressure (if the customers actually have the spine to stand up for themselves and yell) or they won't and people will brand them as dictators and bail like rats off a sinking ship.<br><br>This is why I've been waiting for the tablet market to put out some decent non-apple devices before buying one.
        Zorched
    • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

      @msalzberg

      I'm actually impressed how completely you missed the point. Nice job there.

      In this case, people are buying something from [i]Sony[/i], not Apple. Why should Apple get a cut of the sale? Only Sony should get a cut of the purchase. If Apple's made rules contrary to that, those rules are asinine.

      I'm not sure if Amazon could be blocked from the iPad for this reason, but I think it would be fairly psychotic for Apple to do so. Some people seem to like reading on the iPad. If Apple limited people to just using iBooks for book purchases, the iPad would be significantly less attractive.
      bhartman36
  • RE: Don't believe the sensationalist headlines - Kindle unlikely to be kicked out of iTunes

    What's the point?
    Why would it matter to me as a user if I buy a book from inside an app or from inside a browser?
    And then to read Adrian analyze the decision as if it actually made sense...

    ... brain hurts!
    Theli
    • Money.

      @Theli
      Outside the App Store, Apples gets $0, yet inside the App Store Apple gets 30%.
      Would prices rise to compensate for the lost 30% to Amazon?
      John Zern
    • it's way easier for a user to buy through Apple's in-app purchase mechanism

      @Theli you click on the item, enter you iTunes password.. done..

      for outside purchases like the ones done on Kindle or nook apps.. you click the item, it redirects you to the webpage, you need to enter your username, password, credit card number, then it downloads.. apple's in-app purchase is more streamlined and user friendly.. and if you're dealing with a smaller company you know that apple has vetted the apps so you know you're not going to get scammed..
      doctorSpoc