Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

Summary: Apple created a stir early this year by changing the rules for in-app purchases that in effect made eReader apps share the wealth with Apple. The rules are now in effect and already impacting competition.

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Updated: Apple created a stir early this year by changing the rules for in-app purchases that in effect made eReader apps unable to deal directly with competing bookstores to bypass Apple's 30 percent tax on such purchases. Booksellers were quick to point out that ebooks don't have that kind of margin available to give to Apple, and that changes would have to be made to get around it. The companies behind eReader apps for the iPad and iPhone must have been told the new rules were finally to be enforced, and major changes were noticed this weekend by The Digital Reader that include the removal of Google Books from the iTunes App Store.

There is no official word from Google why the app has been removed, but TDR also noticed that most other eReader apps have been altered to deal with Apple's charges. Nook Kids no longer has a link in the app to buy books from the Barnes & Noble bookstore. This will likely by followed with the main Nook eReader app getting updated soon. The Kobo and Borders apps have already been modified to handle Apple's rules. What remains to be seen is how Amazon handles the Kindle app, which hasn't been modified to date.

These apps no longer allow users to set up new ebook accounts for these stores within the apps, turning them into readers for existing store customers only. This is the way companies are dealing with the in-app 30 percent rule from Apple.

Update: Since publication Amazon has released an updated Kindle app for iOS that "removes the Kindle Store button from the app". The new Kindle app for iOS adds support for magazines and newspapers. Amazon points out that it is still possible to buy Kindle content through Safari or any browser. I guess developers considering moving to HTML5 and dropping the app form entirely may have better reason now.

[via The Digital Reader]

Topics: Apple, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility

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63 comments
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  • I don't understand how or why Apple thought this would work...

    Sadly it appears that Apple is choosing 30% of nothing, as their actions have caused ebook-sellers to simply remove the functionality, rather than a fair percentage of a rapidly shrinking margin.

    The ebooks have razor-thin margins to begin with, and buyers rightfully expect electronic content for less than traditional books.

    This isn't a printed-copy here, and the 'real value' of it -- especially on an Apple device, which is only one of a handful of readers -- doesn't support such a high tithe just for access to their distribution channel.

    It seems Apple wants me to 'pay more and get less'. I won't. Whether the other ebook marketplace consumers agree with me or not, only time will tell. However, I for one, will take my business elsewhere and buy more while paying less.

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
    • The Kindle may see an uptick from this

      @JonathonDoe Since it will be a lot less confusing to use for dedicated eBook desiring customers.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

      @JonathonDoe where are the antitrust busters?
      where are the consumer's advocates?
      Linux Geek
      • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

        @Linux Geek There are no anti-trust busters anymore .... went away once the Dem party became Rep lite. Perhaps class action against Apple might work but it will take years and years and years.
        bigsteve666
    • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

      @JonathonDoe This evil move virtually guaranteed that I will NEVER buy an eBook from Apple. In fact, I may extend this to future music purchases, as well. I will go out of my way to buy from iTunes competitors from now on. I hope others do the same to show their displeasure with Apple. It is ridiculous for Apple to expect Amazon or Google to give them a percentage of book sales. The books aren't being sold through iTunes or being enhanced in any way by Apple - what did Apple do to earn the money on those book purchases?
      BillDem
      • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

        @BillDem

        What did Apple do? They opened their doors and allowed the competition to sell their competing books in the App <b>Store</b>. They're hosting their competitors book stores, giving them easy access to the 230 million book loving iOS users out there.

        Would a Amazon allow Apple to set up shop on their website and sell iBooks to Amazon's customers, freely (redirecting them back to iTunes)? No they would charge Apple a fee to do so, no?
        dave95.
      • Apple CHANGED the rules afterwards...

        @dave95 - the thing is, Apple changed the rules mid-way. Apple decided to set up a book shop AFTER all the others had developed a market. Then, to make sure their product was successful, they hamstrung all the other applications to make sure they could not sell books in app profitably. Apple WANTED Amazon, B&N, etc BEFORE they had their own bookstore, now that they do, they are changing the rules.
        tbuccelli
      • tbuccelli: I have to bring attention to your post

        +1 isn't enough.
        +1000
        toddybottom
      • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

        @Dave95

        " They opened their doors and allowed the competition to sell their competing books in the App Store. "

        There shouldn't be doors there in the first place... with a lock to which Apple alone holds the key. How else can an eReader app, or anything else, be installed on an iPhone? It's locked down and has no memory card slot.

        Eons ago when a Microsoft exec (I forget if it was Gates of Ballmer) was being questioned about Microsoft products using undocumented Windows functions, the exec said "You know, if we wanted to make it so that only our own software ran on Windows, we could do that." He quickly added they wouldn't, but they could. People booed and hissed at the interview and took it as an ominous sign of the dangers to consumers of monopolies. Now here we are many years later, and on the smartphone market, we have finally indeed seen an OS vendor lock down their OS and only allow their own products (or those they allow, who don't compete with them, for a hefty commission) to be installed on devices running their portable OS.

        Apple isn't doing Google or Amazon a favor... they're installed a road block in front of what should be direct access to your cell phone and begun demanding tribute money from all those who pass - if they even allow them to pass.
        jgm@...
      • 30% makes the Mafia sound like a good business partner

        @dave95 I can see the point in charging a fee for the apps. But 30%???? If you created a product, and wanted to sell it at a store (Walmart, BestBuy, whereever), and they said "OK, but we get 30% of the price just for allowing you to sell it here.", would you? I sure as heck wouldn't.

        Probably a more accurate analogy is this. If you were running a Farmer's Market, and wanted to use a store's parking lot, but they demanded 30% of your profits for doing so, would you, or would you move to another lot?
        pdickey043@...
      • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

        @tbuccelli<br><br>"Apple WANTED Amazon, B&N, etc BEFORE they had their own bookstore, now that they do, they are changing the rules."<br><br>Maybe it was the other way around. Maybe it was Amazon, B&N and Borders who WANTED in on the popular App Store craze. Wanting to gain access to the fast growing iOS users. And Apple probably were developing their own store at the time. We really don't know. But one thing I do know for sure, if the rules or policy were indeed changed like you say, Apple certainly won't be the first company to have ever done so. Just look at Amazon and their stores.<br><br>@pdickey043@...<br><br>Apple is not taking home 30% directly, after all the fees, bandwidth fees, service and transaction fees for each book store, Apple takes away signifactly less than 30%. <br><br>That 30% cut Apple is asking gets you hosting, bandwidth, credit card transaction processing, delivery, reporting, the App Stores ease of use (one-click purchasing), and huge visibility and promotion. <br><br>idk, last I heard eBooks sales were outpacing physical books on Amazon and elsewhere. And the Apple App store is just one of many places a Amazon is selling it's massive collection of books. They were doing well before Apple's app store and I'm sure they're doing extraordinarily well now with the help of the app store. I find it hard to believe that Apple's 30% will break them. The smaller players I would worry about but Apple is business out to make profits, not a charity.
        dave95.
    • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

      @JonathonDoe "It seems Apple wants me to 'pay more and get less'." Unfortunately I have seen this at a corporate level and as a company desicion we have converted all but two of our over one hundred mobile devices to android...I must give thanks to Apple for helping us make the desicion to save money get more and well...have better devices.
      dXoom
  • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

    I love my iPhone but the next will likely be an android simply because of stupid policies like this
    cymru999
    • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

      @cymru999

      I've got a Droid X and the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence...
      itguy10
      • Sure its greener.

        @itguy10 If you use the Nook app or Kindle app on Android, neither Google nor the carrier charge extra fees to you or the book seller.

        By it's actions, Apple is killing one of the reasons I might have considered an iPad over my Nook Color - i.e. on the iPad you could have the apps for the various book sellers and have the all on one device. But this is a deal breaker for those of us who have no need/desire for a tablet and just want an e-reader.
        cornpie
      • multiple eReaders on a Nook Color

        @cornpie

        all you have to do is root the nook and you can install any android app you want on it. do a google
        aiellenon
    • apple is just too greedy

      @cymru999 I grabbed the Ipad when it came out, though it was because at that time it was the best available option over the Xoom, but the market is expanding, if my machine gives out. Am never going back into the Apple Garden. I truly don't like Apple ways of doing business.
      DiceMoney
  • Remember, this is for OUR benefit, not Apple's

    I think it's totally fair that a person can go out and buy a phone (not lease or rent it, BUY it) then have the manufacturer tell you what you can, or can't run on it.

    We are witnessing the positive benefits of a closed and locked ecosystem.
    William Pharaoh
    • Errr

      @William Pharaoh : More like in the direction of fascism.
      Sort of like buying a nice car only to find out that you can only drive it on specific highways and city roads.
      One reason why I'll never buy anything from Apple.
      People use to dislike apps that aren't available on multiple OSs. This is the opposite direction.
      I bought the product, I should have the choice of what I want installed on it and not be subject to spitting matches between Apple and Google or Apple and Adobe or Apple and ....
      Gis Bun
    • RE: Apple enforcing eReader restrictions, Google Books no longer available to iOS

      @William Pharaoh Thanks. I'm waiting for the "Why do people hate on Apple so much? What does Apple ever do that's so wrong?" posts.
      jgm@...