In-app purchase buttons have been disappearing from Apple iOS in recent days, as some high-profile players — Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the Wall Street Journal — end direct sales from their respective apps. But the in-app purchase jousting is just beginning.
Recall that Apple changed its rules in February for content publishers on in-app purchases. If you linked to a store outside of the applications you had to include in-app purchases, too, so Apple could get a cut. Apple blinked a bit for newspapers and magazines. Jason Perlow predicted a judgment day for ebook apps, but was a few weeks too early.
Today looks like judgment day. The tally so far:
- Kobo nuked a button to its store;
- Barnes & Noble did the same for its Nook app;
- ditto for Amazon and its Kindle app;
- the Wall Street Journal went along, too; and
- Google Books as well.
On the surface, the reaction is simple. What choice did these companies have? If you want to be on iOS, you have to play by Apple's rules. And iOS is a big chunk of market share. It's not like you can walk away. Amazon said:
This update removes the Kindle Store button from the app. Customers can shop for 950,000 books in the Kindle Store by visiting Amazon.com/kindlestore in Safari or any web browser.
So is this over? Not quite. I suspect that more companies will go the way of the Financial Times, and develop HTML5 apps to skip Apple's App Store entirely. These first moves by rival ebook players are likely to be trial balloons. You remove a Kindle Store button, evaluate sales and let the metrics decide. Rest assured that if these ebook store giants didn't have an installed base, they would have already ditched Apple's App Store.
In a few weeks, the metrics may tell Kobo, Amazon and Barnes & Noble that an app isn't worth the effort. Perhaps they will all go HTML5 at some point.
Another wrinkle is that Amazon also has a tablet on deck. This tablet will feature Kindle apps — potentially natively on Android — and that move will make the Apple relationship contentious. In advance, Amazon is likely to push HTML5 sooner rather than later.
In other words, the strategy appears to be that it makes sense to cave in to Apple now, monitor the results and then move to HTML5. What remains to be seen is how joint customers will react.
Via ZDNet US