In a surprising chain of tweets this morning, we heard news that Apple rejected the Sony Reader app from the App Store due to the process which customers purchase eBooks. We did a little searching and found this MacRumors article detailing the issue.

Apple denied the Sony app because it allowed customers to purchase content directly from Sony and circumvented the typical in-app purchasing that we’ve come to love and loathe. Instead of sharing the customary 30 – 70 split between Apple and the developer, their app handled purchasing books through Sony’s systems. That’s obviously a no-go.

The real cause for concern is a new trend Apple has been sharing with ‘several’ developers: no purchases can be initiated from an app without it being an ‘in-app purchase.’ The New York Times reports that this restriction only applies to eBook transactions… but why?

Apple is obviously competing in the eBook market with the iBook Store… do they really need to frustrate would-be customers by limiting their ability to use whatever content they’d like? Supposedly, any iOS customer will be able to view content purchased outside of the iOS application, but any new purchases initiated from the device have to follow the 30-70 split.

We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.

That’s just lame.

This is obviously a ploy to discourage other eBook stores from coming to the iOS. Those stores won’t make any money if they have to give 30 percent of each transaction to Apple. Amazon keeps 30 percent of each transaction and gives 70 percent to the books’ publishers. Amazon’s net result for each book purchase on iOS devices would easily creep into the negatives with this model. If forced to comply with Apple’s new rules, we’ll definitely see the Kindle app die a bloody, mangled and torturous death.

As the NYT suggests, this rumor — if proven true — indicates that Apple’s not as interested in selling the devices as they are in maximizing the continuous stream of revenue from each device. This demonstrates a major shift in the Apple ecosystem and will surely keep people from buying iOS products. I’ve purchased several books from the Kindle store so I could read them on my computer, iPad or iPhone… that’s more than I can do with any iBook.

Honestly, Apple has been telling us how we’re supposed to use our devices since the release of ‘Web Apps’ for the original iPhone — that’s why I jailbreak. They have gradually taken steps in the right direction (the App Store, Google Voice availability and the concept that was the Kindle app) but it seems like every time we take one step forward Apple takes two steps back. Let’s stop dancing and start walking towards end-user satisfaction. We’re not all ignorant, Apple.

Josh Carr
Josh founded eciov in 2008 and has overseen it's evolution into a lifestyle site. He enjoys all things digital, art, music, creativity -- anything that can evoke emotion. If he's not working on this site or at his day job as a UX Engineer, he's out riding his motorcycle or jumping his truck on trails in the mountains.
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