A while back I wrote a post about the news that Apple was going to start charging vendors 30% on all sales made from within apps on Apple devices. At the time, the big hullabaloo was related to Sony, who were threatening to pull all of their music out of iTunes.
Today I read here that Barnes & Noble has removed the ability to make purchases from directly within their Nook app. They instruct users to open the Safari browser and make purchases from nookbooks.com instead. That removes the 30% fee from Apple, but causes extra steps for shoppers. I then read here that it’s not just Barnes & Noble that has removed this in-app link, but also Amazon, Kobo, and others.
Reaction to this appears to be split. Commenters on the first website mostly seem irritated with Apple, saying things like, “No Flash, No Ebooks, No HTML5, No real multi-tasking, No side loading = No Thank You Apple. Apple is the AOL of today.” But the second article claims that people are all up in arms about it, complaining about how they can no longer make in-app purchases.
I think that whether or not you agree with this development will mostly depend on what kind of technology user you are. If you’re someone who wants the easiest way to buy and download content and you don’t care about the details of where your money goes, then the in-app method of making purchases is obviously much easier method. If you’re someone who’s really into gadgets and also sympathizes with smaller businesses who get 30% of each sale chomped out by a larger company, you might be more in favor of taking the extra few steps to buy your content through Safari instead.
Personally, I feel that 30% is a pretty hefty amount for Apple to take from every sale. I understand their reason for charging a fee. They are, after all, providing the platform for the sale to take place. But this could easily be prohibitive for a small business or app developer, and more than that, it just feels unfair, like a big company that’s trying to take advantage of everyone else just because they can. It will be interesting to see what happens with this in the future.
Don’t forget that you can always buy ebooks directly from websites and then transfer them to your device. That actually gives you a lot more shopping freedom because you can purchase from independent ebook stores as well.
My RSS feeds are all abuzz today about how Apple has denied Sony’s app for the Sony Reader. It seems that Apple decided they didn’t like it because users could buy content through the app, and Apple would not get a share of the profit. This kind of blows me away because, as far as I can tell, other similar ebook apps like the Kindle and Nook apps have been doing this all along, and apparently it didn’t become a problem until Sony submitted their app.
I guess it was the straw the broke the camel’s back for them. Too many companies all trying to sell ebooks without giving Apple money for each sale, and they decided to suddenly change the rules on everyone.
Read more about this on Wired. Quotes:
Apple has responded to the furor over its supposed App Store policy changes that many believe could affect the popular Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader apps. The company claims it has not changed any of its guidelines given to developers, but it indirectly confirms that accessing content purchased elsewhere could be a no-no if that content isn’t also available to be purchased through Apple’s own system.
Apple also allegedly told Sony that the app couldn’t access content purchased on other Sony Reader devices, which is where most of the outrage was focused. Amazon’s Kindle app and Barnes & Noble’s Nook app are both popular mechanisms for users to download and read books that they have purchased from the respective stores. Many feared that this supposed change in Apple policy would take their e-books away from their iPads, iPhones and iPod touches.
Apple’s second statement indicates that this is indeed the case — sort of. If an app lets users access content that they purchased via Amazon’s website, for example, then that same app must also let users buy the same book via Apple’s own in-app purchase system. If the app developer doesn’t want to use Apple’s in-app purchases to sell content, then the app can’t access content purchased elsewhere either.
It seems that Amazon and Barnes & Noble will have to rework their ebook apps so that users will somehow buy the content through Apple, so that Apple gets the 30% that they charge for content purchased through iTunes. Eh … I’m not even going to try and rewrite the details. Check out the article in Wired, linked to above. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this soon.