More on Apple vs Kindle for iOS devices

So, Apple vs the Amazon Kindle platform.  I brought this topic up a few days ago, I know, but it bears repeating now that representatives from Apple have come out to clarify their position and put an end to the speculation based mainly around the rejection of Sony’s Reader app submission to the Apple app store.

For those who haven’t been following the situation, Apple has apparently decided to start enforcing some of the rules regarding in-app purchasing that they have seemed uninterested in until this point.  As a result of this, Sony was unable to get its iOS Reader app published, and Amazon’s Kindle app, along with all the other eBook readers out there linked to a store, may be in some pretty serious trouble.  Up until now, the way things work has been for the Kindle app to send you to the website whenever you want to pick up something new to read.  It results in convenience for users and neatly bypasses the need to work within the app store infrastructure.  That part, I doubt Apple minds.  What they are objecting to is the fact that these sales, going through the website as they do, fail to make Apple any money.  So, new restrictions. Now, since Apple wants a 30% cut and Amazon is making as little as a 30% cut as it is on many sales (specifically those coming from its self-publishing authors), many people are foreseeing a problem.

Heading off many of the potential solutions that Amazon could have used to address the new restrictions, Apple reps have made clear that there can be no linking to outside stores from inside an app anymore, and definitely no marking up of in-app sales to dissuade their use.  Basically, anything you’re selling to users of your app had better be available through the app so that Apple can get its cut and it must cost the same or less than in any other store you operate.  Not good news for the Kindle platform.

It remains to be seen how Amazon is going to respond to this.  There really seem to be very few options.  The question may come down to a matter of how much of Amazon’s eBook sale numbers comes through Apple devices.  I would imagine it would have to be a large percentage to persuade them to raise prices across the board for eBooks, which is what would have to happen for Apple’s percentage to be accounted for.  But it is also highly unlikely that the numbers could be so low as to make pulling the app completely a viable option.  Simply forgoing their own percentage of the price on a product that many believe is already being sold at cost or below is the least likely scenario of all, in my opinion.  Short of withdrawing the app, it seems like any compromise in favor of Apple will have a negative impact on users of Amazon’s own Kindle owners and that seems like a silly choice to make unless it’s overwhelmingly necessary. Read how to open KEY file.

Maybe this is a move intended to bolster Apple’s unimpressive efforts to take over the eBook industry’s distribution network the way they have that of the music industry, but if so then at best this will be an uphill battle that will earn them no small amount of ill will.  With the eReader capabilities of the iPad in particular being a selling point for many people, all Apple may be accomplishing here is diminishing the value of their devices by causing problems with one of the most popular apps they have seen to date.

13 thoughts on “More on Apple vs Kindle for iOS devices”

  1. Amazon could just claim that, since one has to have an Amazon account to buy anything, they’re already subscribed and thus avoid paying Apple anything. Not sure about people who don’t have an account, but maybe just making them go to the website (even from a computer) to sign up would be sufficient to claim they are outside subscribers.

  2. I purchased an iPad on Jan 18. Yesterday I read about Apples new policy re: Kindle.
    I returned my iPad yesterday. Bye Bye Apple!!

  3. I say Amazon just removes any purchase ability from within the app. A user can always just use a browser to go to Amazon’s website, will Apple start blocking websites?

    I hope Amazon doesn’t give in to this extortion.

  4. If it comes right down to it, I will go with an Andriod device for my next tablet purchase. This is only forcing the consumer to make the decision, is the device more important or is it my Kindle library?

  5. Brian and Common Sense: One of Apple’s rules is that an app cannot be used to access content purchased OUTSIDE of the app, UNLESS that same content is available for purchase from WITHIN the app itself (with 30% of those purchases going to Apple). It really is extortion, plain and simple. I feel bad for anyone who owns an iPad at this point, since this really can’t end well for the consumer.

  6. @Brian and @Common Sense – The new rule states that if the content is available for purchase elsewhere it has to be also available through Apple’s system. In other words: even the removal any purchase ability will result in the Kindle.App being banish from the AppStore.

  7. Raising prices would do nothing. Amazon would still come out at zero. That’s how percentages work. So who cares how many ipad users buy their books, if they never stand to make a single penny anymore. This is what Apple wants, which is why they told publishers last year, that if they wanted to sell on iBooks, they had to enter into a 70/30 agreement with all other sellers and never sell their books elsewhere at cheaper than iBooks. Apple just needs to be honest that they are trying to limit their users options to only using iBooks. That’s their choice, but again, they need to be honest about it. And users need to be honest with themselves that they get little choice and that Apple is causing it (and not accuse Amazon/B&N/Kobo of being against multi-platform). If they are fine with that, then so be it.

  8. This will eventually end with the Feds and/or the EU forcing apple to allow users access alternative sources of applications through competitive stores. Much like they forced MS to allow non-IE browsers, the US and EU are not going to allow constraint of trade based soleyon the terms of an ultimately uninforceable EULA. As apple moves from counter-culture icon to the very same Orwellian corporate hierarchy they so successfully rallied against 20 years, they’re going to suffer the same fate as IBM and Microsoft. It’s true history repeats. And karma is the mother of all bitches….

  9. Note to Apple:

    On Wall Street they have a saying:

    “A Bull can make money sometimes, and a Bear can make money sometimes, but hogs go to the slaughterhouse.”

    It applies to business plans, too.

  10. I imagine Apple sees this as a win whatever Amazon decides. If Amazon gives in, Apple gets 30% of Kindle sales on iOS. If Amazon doesn’t give in, iOS users lose access to Kindle books and iBooks becomes pretty much their only option… from which Apple gets 30%.

    It’s this kind of anti-competitive behaviour that means I now avoid buying Apple products. It’s a shame, as the products themselves are often very good.

  11. the obvious solution is for amazon to bypass the app store and just develop a web app that stores the books on the cloud. if apple try to block the website, then i think apple will have a serious problem on its hands. viva net neutrality!

  12. I’ll simply not buy a kindle book on my iPad app or on my iPhone. I can buy a book on the Kindle or at the Amazon site and load it onto the device via the archives. A bit more inconvenient, but worth it to not allow apple to get a cut of this transaction.

  13. Guys, this is not that hard to understand. GO back and review Apple’s position. Amazon removes the Kindle store link from their app. You, iPad user, go to via Safari, and buy a damn book. The vaunted Whispernet beams that book to your iPad like magic. In other words, just like it works now except you go to Amazon via your browser, not the app. That’s how this ends.

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