We tried to come up with a movie reference that compares Apple to the popular kid who loses all of his friends due to poor choices but we failed to think of one. Obviously, they have the hottest items on the market, just like the cool kid in high school… but they are making choices that will leave them without any friends. Call it greed, call it obsession — they could end up destroying some important relationships with their recent shenanigans.
Sony has been trying to get out of the iTunes Store before they were ever in it. They’re constantly talking about leaving the iTunes Store for an iTunes competitor but it never seems to happen. iTunes is important, especially since nothing has been able to overtake it since it opened in 2003.
Even still, a recent event has Sony looking at every option, looking for some way to escape iTunes and break off on their own. Why? Apple denied their Sony Reader application from the App Store. It’s one thing to upset a tiny developer during the review process but Apple just made Sony into an angry lineman looking for a slushy machine.
During recent discussions of subscription-based apps, i.e. The Daily, Apple determined that it wanted more money from developers. We’d like to be optimistic and say it’s not greed… but we don’t see another option. Apple updated their review guidelines to mandate any developer offering add-ons or upgrades must allow customers to purchase the content in-app.
There is still a lot of fog surrounding the new requirements: can developers offer the in-app purchase and an external purchase option? What will Apple say if developers start charging more for the in-app purchase? Will Apple even allow alternative payment methods at all?
Obviously, this affects the eBook apps more than any other market. Most developers are used to giving Apple the required 30% but apps like Kindle, Nook, Kobo and the premature Sony Reader will never make profit with those rules. We covered that more in-depth in an earlier article.
Ultimately, Apple may piss off the wrong company causing a catastrophic drop in their cool factor. If Sony decided to leave iTunes we’d lose access to artists like Kings of Leon, Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, the list goes on. We’re guessing that most major artists require their music to be in iTunes so Sony would need to show them that whatever they’re doing is better than iTunes. (Crap, that didn’t go according to plan. Well, let’s switch to NBC.)
NBC Universal has been in and out of the iTunes Store several times since the introduction of downloadable TV content. Their current stance is that buying TV episodes for $2 is fine but renting them for $1 on the Apple TV is not okay. Huh? In fact, most studios haven’t migrated to the $1 rental, which still confuses the eager-to-pay mindset I have for TV rentals. NBC Universal has a lot more weight to throw around now that Comcast purchased the network. (Oh wait, the court ruling said that they have to make the content available to competitors… where is this article going?)
It looks like we’ve disproved our point and described an Apple that is stronger than ever… but let’s make the final argument anyways: Apple could be discouraging a lot of potential partners by creating terms that will greatly reduce profits, change development directions and negatively affect the consumer experience. We may even find developers removing their apps from the store in the next several months because they can’t turn a profit with Apple’s new rules. If Apple would give up a little control from time to time, they may strengthen their relationships with their developers, improve the available content on the iTunes Store and ensure future reliability… then maybe the consumers will have the user experience we’ve wanted from the beginning.