Speculation regarding a change in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store approval process has been rather widespread today, after the Cupertino company rejected Sony’s ebook Reader application for supposedly selling books outside of the App Store. Of course, this lead many to question the future of other ebook readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, or the Nook application – if Sony’s application didn’t meet the new App Store terms, why would the others?
Based on comments from Sony, the New York Times reported that AAPL is “further tightening its control on the App Store,” and it suggested that applications which rival Apple’s own iBooks app may be in danger of being removed from the App Store. It was thought that Apple was unhappy with the availability of ebooks outside of Apple and in-app purchases.
It’s not uncommon, however, for some of us journalists to get it wrong from time to time, and a rather timely response issued by Apple today has clarified the company’s position on third-party ebook readers and ebook sales through iOS apps.
An official comment from Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller confirmed that the company has not “changed our developers terms or guidelines.” Speaking to John Paczkowski of the New York Times, Miller explained that Apple now require applications to offer customers the ability to purchase books from within in-app purchases if they are also available to purchase outside of the app. So the company isn’t banning sales outside of the App Store, they just require applications to give users the option of purchasing through this route if they wish to do so.
Although Apple will argue that this move is to make life easier for the user, it’s hard to ignore that the company takes a cut of everything sold through iTunes and the App Store. Many already complain that the books sold through iTunes and the iBooks application are overpriced, and so we turn to the alternatives, who offer the same titles at a lower price, and we save our money. However, when we purchase books from Amazon for our Kindle app at present, Apple doesn’t see any of our money.
Buying books within applications through in-app purchases will undoubtedly be easier for the user – you simply select the book you want to purchase and click ‘buy’ – iTunes already has your billing info, and so your books begins downloading. There’s no redirection to a website in Safari where you must first login, then find the book you want to buy, then enter your credit card details, and then get your download.
Because things will be easier this way, most customers will choose to buy this way, and Amazon and Sony and all the rest will lose a little bit of the money we paid for our books to Apple. This could mean that the price of ebooks through third-party sources is slightly increased, however, I’m sure they’ll still be cheaper than Apple.