back to article Apple's app store policies: What will they provoke?

There hasn’t actually been a new policy statement, but Apple has clearly made a change in the eReader side of its business - one that immediately affects Sony, which has brought the issue to light. It is likely that the change will also affect Amazon (it can’t really affect one and not the other) and Barnes and Noble with its …

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Jobs Horns

Censorship

A number of iPhone apps conveniently present the information and services of a number of web applications which can be run safely in Safari or any other modern browser.

However, Apple's puritanical and inconsistent policies over the content viewed through such apps changes the nature of those applications. You are not allowed to view the *same user-generated content* through those apps as you may through the browser. This forces some of the creators of such services to impose the same restrictions on Android apps as exist in the iTunes store, so that an iPhone user cannot see adult content generated by the user of another phone.

The consistent follow-through for Apple would be remove Safari.

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Paris Hilton

busboy

Store owners have a right to sell what they want to. Walmart refuses to sell playboy. And they won't let k-mart sell their goods on Walmart shelves. Apple has the same right. There is no restraint of trade here. Next we'll be after Walmart for not selling Chevrolets.

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Boffin

you're missing the point

There are a couple of important differences here:

First, Wal-mart does not limit your choices. If you don't like their offering, you can buy elsewhere. Apple users don't have that freedom. If you own an Apple product, you can only shop at Apple.

Secondly, Wal-mart does not carry magazines on the condition that - if you take a subscription - they get a cut. You are free to make any deal you like with the publishers. Here, Apple is saying that you are not free to buy your subscription directly from the publisher if you want to use paid content on your Apple device.

Personally, I think the whole business model is reprehensible, but it has obviously paid off very well for Apple, and most consumers don't seem to care much.

As the article says - that may be changing now.

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FAIL

No, its not

No, its not quite that simple. If you want to buy K-mart stuff, you go into K-mart, if you want to buy Chevrolet, you go to a dealer. Fact is, you can just go and do that.

If you want to buy a K-mart app to go on your Ipad, and Apple dont want you to buy it, your stuffed.

There is no way around it other than jailbraking, and apple have been trying their best to stop people doing that.

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I suggest you read the TFA

It's about whether Apple could be considered to be in a monopoly situation. If so, there are laws - the same laws that would apply to Walmart if they were the only place to shop.

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Paris Hilton

Barnes & Noble : Nook eReader

Did B&N honestly not consider how the name of their device sounds? ... NookieReader : Your entire collection of jazz-mags on one digital device. Awesome.

Paris, obviously.

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Anonymous Coward

two points

1/ Will Apple risk the wrath of Amazon by blocking the Kindle Reader... would Amazon in turn either block sales of Apple products through their stores or demand a 30% facilitation fee?

2/ Imagine if this situation was instead Microsoft demanding a 30% tax on every app that gets sold on Windows. With iPad Apple have just as much of a monopoly in that area as Microsoft still do on the desktop (though as more moves to the web the actual OS becomes less relevant for a lot of users) yet there's hardly any of the outrage that would accompany a similar move by MS. Double standards are just sad to behold

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Jobs Horns

First, BS

First, demanding 30% revenue on sales through an Apple-hosted App Store is not like Microsoft charging 30% for the priviledge to sell programs for Windows.

Blocking Apps from the iP*d is like the PS3 blocking games from its PSNetwork. Perhaps akin to the Kindle blocking your ability to read B&N books on it? No one claims foul that I can't read my Kindle books on my Nook (from B&N). Sure, the iP*d is a device that's supposed to support general applications as opposed to a specialized device, which would put it in a similar arena as an Operating System on a computer, but not quite. The XBox or Playstation can be argued to be the most similar device to an iP*d. Both are heavy protected platforms. Both are designed to run Apps (games, in the case of the consoles) within limits set by the manufacturer. Because Playstation won't allow me to put my free game (one that charges you $1 for every zombie I shoot, for instance) for download on their Playstation Network, doesn't mean they're using their monopoly to oppress me.

Apple has been marketing their iP*d devices as a "whole" computing platform and consumption device when it isn't. I blame Apple marketing. They'll block newpaper apps because they have The Daily now. They'll block eReaders because they have a iBookstore now. Since they don't really have equivalent (and lucrative) Apps for the other stuff, they don't block them so more people buy their devices because of the variety (or perhaps just simply the quantity) of Apps. If they're purposely THEN building an in-house app and killing off all competing apps, I would consider monopolistic abuse in a manufacturer-controlled market, but it's hard to prove that Apple is purposely allowing apps to build market share and then killing them once Apple has an in-house alternative.

/Devil Jobs, because it may be hard to prove, but doesn't mean it isn't happening.

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Love the Apple

We am the hive mind. Each of us a special, unique flower. Just like everyone else.

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No this is much worse

They want to collect 30% on content bought from OTHER sources because they force you to use their payment method. If this were paypal or a credit card company trying to impose such insane fees there would be a huge uproar. But because it's Apple the idiots just say it's ok.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, but...

What do we actually know about this situation? Not a whole lot really.

It may be that sony's case is significantly different from amazon's. On amazon's setup, you buy books through the browser, does sony handle purchases the same way or is it trying to do in-app purchases?

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The point is...

Amazon et al will refuse to sell via Apple. They would be mad to. Apple could then ban the Kindle app and ePub reading apps from being installed on their devices. You would then be forced to use Apple's app and Apple's store.

Personally, I don't think even Apple are mad enough to try it on.

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Re; Yes, but...

We do know some real facts about the situation, and some of them are not what's represented in this story:

First, the policy is not to prevent booksellers like Amazon from selling e-books through their own channels. The policy states that "in-app" purchases must be done through the iTunes infrastructure. There are valid reasons for this, which I will mention below, but they are irrelevant: Amazon does not sell its books "in-app," they do it through their own site.

Second, the policy further states that if an application developer sells content through external channels, such content must also be available through the iTunes infrastructure as an "in-app" purchase. This does not limit choice, but expands it: Users must have the choice of purchasing through an external (and perhaps unknown) vendor, or purchasing the same through Apple (presumably trusted, if the user already has an iTunes account).

Whether Amazon will agree to this, is an valid question, but I can't see why they wouldn't. So far we know nothing regarding price restrictions, so it seems possible that Amazon can offer their direct sales at a lower price than the iTunes versions, and thus have an advantage. To presume that this is an anti-competitive stance rather than a user experience issue (more of this below) is premature and disingenuous.

To recapitulate, there are two separate policies here:

1. All "in-app" purchases must be done through Apple; purchases through other vendors can be done outside the app. Furthermore, All externally purchased content must be installed into the common file areas and not downloaded into the application package.

3. All externally purchased content must also be available as an "in-app" purchase through Apple.

Regarding the first two, there are some valid reasons why this policy is in place. The most important one is security: In-app purchases performed through external channels cannot be verified by the user to be performed through secured channels. Amazon knew this and did not argue the point, opting instead to have the Kindle re-direct the user to their own e-commerce site, so that the user can confirm that the transaction is done through a secure (HTTPS) transmission.

Then there's user experience issues: if an app downloads content within itself (by modifying it's package), the user will not be able to share the content between installations of the same application on different devices.

-dZ.

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LDS
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All "dictatorship" start telling you they will make your life more secure

All that babbling about Apple making your device more secure is pure s**t. And all the naive people believing it are pure naive people. All "dictatorship" start by telling you "don't worry, all the restrictions are here just to ensure you are more secure, believe us...". What's the problem with DMCA then? It is there to make your experience more secure, isn't it? You shouldn't download and use contents you are not sure about its origint, should you? You should not tamper with applications and exploiting bugs, thus making them less secure, should you?

Apple is simpling exploiting its dominance to ensure a total lock-in, and it also exploits the fact that being a status symbol, people won't ctiticise it to show they didn't make a mistake to buy their status symbol, exactly how dictatorship fans will always close both eyes because they can't admit they stay on the wrong side. Apple is driving a market approach that if successul will bring customers rights one hundred years back. And it risk to be successful just because of people liking to show off their latest toys (for lack of being able to show anything else).

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*yawn*

"What's the problem with DMCA then? It is there to make your experience more secure, isn't it?"

No. The purpose of the DMCA is to keep people who feel that they are entitled to have other folks' work for free from stealing other folks' work.

Is it Draconian? Yes. Is it abused by huge corporations who cling to broken business models and desperately try to use the force of law to roll back the clock to a time when those business models were actually relevant? You bet. Are the anti-circumvention portions a ridiculous and backassward attempt on the part of clueless and poorly-informed legislators to earn their corporate campaign contributions? No doubt.

But at the end of the day, the only thing I find more tiresome than the whining of pathetic RIAA and MPAA executives wringing their hands because their failed business model means they won't be able to buy a new yacht this year, is the bleatings of people who feel entitled to have the work of other people without paying for it. It seems that the majority of the folks I've met personally who cry about the DMCA are folks who've never created original content themselves that's actually worth something.

So no, the DMCA is not about "security." And by trying to draw in that particular universally-loathed Internet canard to bolster your argument, I'm afraid you've rather weakened it.

I'd like to propose forthwith a new variant on Godwins' law. As the length of any Internet conversation about some company's policies increases, the odds that someone will invoke the DMCA to try to prove how Bad And Wrong that company's policies are approaches 1, even if the policies in question have little or nothing to do with copyright. When that happens, the conversation is over, and the person who compared the policies in question to the DMCA has lost.

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Exclusive vs Non-Exclusive

Here is what we think about Apple - http://www.youtube.com/mobgets - the backlash has already started.

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FAIL

HTML5

Let me start by saying I am not a web developer so have no real epertise in this field.

Why do people not develop HTML5 applications rather than using the app store? Particularly for things like ebooks or enews. This gets away from apples walled garden and makes apps cross platform.

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DRM?

Embedding text in a webpage is hardly difficult.

Converting books to webpages is child's play.

Making it so that you cannot then copy. save, redistribute, or otherwise dick around with the webpage is very difficult indeed.

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Happy

busboy

Selling on the Internet is costly and difficult. Sometimes, no one finds you. Selling through Apple is easy and you instantly get noticed. I spend more selling less when I don't use Apple. I'm sure the same is true for others. Apple presents a great, cheap opportunity with its App Stores.

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Anonymous Coward

Android = Open. Market = Not

You seem to have assumed that because Android is open that the Android Market is in some way. It has been more open than the Apple App store up until now, but that's completely Google's choice, there is nothing binding them to it.

Google have just released their own API for making in-app purchases, which skims the same 30% off the top as you get when selling your app (just for using their billing API - they don't even provide a content delivery mechanism). It would not be the largest step in the world were Google to say that if any in-app purchases were to be made in future it would have to be using their API (and therefore making them some money) -- after all they don't allow other markets in the market, the same non-compete clause could be extended to digital billing .

So half of the points in the article seem to based the idea that Google *will* allow what Apple isn't/doesn't. AFAIK Google has yet to come out and make a statement about the future of the 3rd party payment APIs on Android -- perhaps the Reg could ask el Goog.

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Anonymous Coward

But...

You don't *HAVE* to use the Google Market. In fact, non-Google branded Android handsets don't even have them, and yet people get along just fine and dandy!

On the iPhone, you have to jailbreak in order to have alternative markets. Big difference.

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Jobs Horns

Yes, but

Not sure what you mean by "they don't allow other markets in the market" - Google doesn't have a total stranglehold on Android apps in the same way that Apple does with its app store. Yes, the android marketplace is the dominant source of apps at least at the moment, but (and correct me if I'm wrong) on android people can install 3rd party apps - and will do, if Google goes all Apple on them and starts turning down apps people want.

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Indeed.

I have three different markets on my Desire. In fact, I downloaded the Market app for the non-Google-markets from Google Market. Apple would never allow such a thing.

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Re: Android = Open. Market = Not

On my phone, I have the Google Market with its 100s of thousands of apps, and the Samsung App Store with 9 apps to choose from. I can also obtain apps from elsewhere and transfer them to my phone on the SD card. As Android is Free and Open Source, anyone can use it and modify it as they wish.

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Pint

Hmmm....

I think you nailed it in the middle of the article. Apple used to be able to get away with this sort of thing, they were a minor thorn in a lot of other's sides, but now they are much bigger and they think they can carry on as they once did. MS had a similar thing, once Win95/98 came out and they rocketed off as the home desktop of choice, they started getting it in the neck from all sides.

Interesting times coming for Mr Jobs.

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Silver badge

Let me get this straight

To use the iPad as a ebook reader, you need to download an app from the likes of Amazon. Fine. But to then get books you need to download them via either the Apple iBookstores, or in App from Amazon. Ok.

But are you saying that Apple then get a 30% cut of the second method? When you want to buy something from Amazon, using an Amazon app which downloads direct from Amazon, over your own wireless or 3G link on to your own device, some of the cost goes to Apple? What the hell does it have to do with them? It's not their app, their product or their tablet.

Screw that. I'll stick with my Kindle.

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Anonymous Coward

No

Nope. Unless you have a jailbroken iPhone, the Amazon app doesn't come direct from Amazon, it comes from the App Store through Apple!

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Anonymous Coward

Or alternatively

Get the books elsewhere as epubs, and copy them onto the iPad using Calibre or similar, and read them using something like ibook or stanza.

That option was still available last I checked (about a week ago)...

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Anonymous Coward

Yes that is it - 30% to Apple, or get lost.

I'm pretty sure that if Apple could, they would license iPhone to you and not sell it.

And yes that is what they are saying - there is no way for a company to have a product that competes with Apple without a) Paying Apple 30% fee on all app sales and b) Paying Apple a 30% fee on all content sales.

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more to the point

it is STILL an option, even under these "enforced" rules. You can;t have an in-app process to buy a book direct from Amazon, but you can have a link in the app that opens a web site with which to buy the book, and it can still download into the device (into shared space, not inside the app container). This is how it is done today. All Apple is doing is saying "if you offer that, you ALSO have to offer in-app purchases through the iOS app store", at least for any content that actually is available in both places. If the content is not offered by apple, no itunes link is required.

Prevailing logic moves that this is in fact not a money grab, but is a protection for iOS users who either do not have a credit/debit card, who buy using iTunes gift cards, and for those who provide iTunes "allowances" for their kids. If Amazon, Sony, BnK, etc all used exclusively their own stores, customers who did not have Visa/etc accessibility would not be able to buy content, except through iBooks. Applying to books alone, this doesn't sound like a huge burden, but when applied to periodicals, game levels, and more, content that IS available in both places, it could be an issue.

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Paris Hilton

One mans prevailing logic is another mans steaming heap

So to allow people with no visa/mastercard/cardofchoice for e commerce all vendors must pay the iTax of 30% to allow people to use Apples gift cards!

Plus Apple has already moved to block access to content paid for elsewhere with the Belgian newspapers which appeared to be a test to dip the toe in the water of forcing content payment, delivery and iAd addition exclusively through iTunes.

If Apple wanted to serve its Ios customers it would let them access content via apps thats been paid for elsewhere becuase that gives them choice.

What you have highlighted at the end of your comment is the very lucrative market outside iTunes that Apple would like to get a 1/3rd of for all its devices.

Two key reasons I dont buy Apple products, they tell me whats good for me to install , and they tell me where to shop, what next ? telling us when to eat, sleep and take a dump?

I have to ask Michael, do you work for Apple or one of its PR firms?

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Stop

@Michael C

Nice try fanboi - but no cigar.

OK, not a ideal analogy, but Imagine if I bought a phone from Tesco and Tesco insisted any app I use to purchase groceries MUST also link to the Tesco product (just to protect those people who use Tesco vouchers), and that Tesco get 30% of the sales for those that aren't linked. This would OK would it? This is not a money grab is it? Really?

Even you, as an obvious 'fruit' fan, must admit that trying to support apples decisions is getting difficult - just give in to the facts, that apple, because of stupid protectionist rules, are now, quite rightly, the most hated tech. company in the world - and most pro-apple commentards are simply in denial - which is sad really.

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Best news all day...

So basically if Apple gets bigger, they can be hit with anti-trust suits for their uncompetitive behaviour, but if they shrink, then they lose their high position in the market?

It's all win win then =]

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Stop

no.

1, they're not requiring you to buy from them, they're only requiring the OPTION to alternatively buy direct, and only as it applies to content apple already carries.

2, being anti-competitive is not illegal, only using market monopoly position in such a way as to stifle competition is illegal. The USA does not recognize the iOS store as a monopoly, it is but one store is the much bigger market of ALL apps on all platforms, and they further consider real books, CDs, etc, part of that competitive landscape. The only way apple might get into trouble is if they said "IF you sell it here, you can not sell it anywhere else, period, and then still only if they became 80+% of the market in total.

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Being anti-competitive is not illegal...

...but in any right-thinking world it should be. Corporations should be forced to sink or swim on innovation, quality, price and service. Not thier ability to lock out competitors. Cue the corporatist apologists..

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WTF?

@ Michael C - Are you for real?

Have you actually:

a) Understood the issue

b) Read your fanboi tripe back to yourself.

Is it all about choice or not? If so, then I choose not to give 30% of my sale to a company that has NOTHING to do with the item I am purchasing, using an app that has NOTHING to do with them either. They manufacture the device and OS - that's it - to claim that forcing the vendor to add a link to allow the OS vendor to get 30% is somehow 'good for choice' is, to be honest - utter bollox.

If you bought your iPhone from e-bay then maybe e-bay should get 30% of all the revenue for items you bought using said iPhone - why not...they have as much claim as Apple do to my Amazon purchases using my iPhone - namely F**K ALL.

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Bronze badge

Might not happen from one of the worlds biggest bullies.

A bully will always pick on the weak. And Sony being new in this area is weaker than Amazon.

For this reason it is possible they will leave Amazon alone.

They might be the greedy but this bully is clever enough to only do 'their evil' where it is safe.

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Silver badge

I don't see why they can't be brought up

I think Apple are clearly abusing their position to change the rules and put their competition at a disadvantage.

It's not like music where they could fairly claim they were the first on the scene. For books in particular, there were already ereaders on the iPhone before any Apple bookstore turned up. Now they're changing the rules to force those ereaders to jump through impossible hoops or turn over a significant chunk of profit for purchased content. It's classic leveraging and it shouldn't matter if they have 10% of the phone market or 90%. Within the iPhone market is what matters and there they are behaving like an abusive monopoly.

This isn't the only place they're leveraging. Look at the recent app store on the Mac. It's installed by default when you update OS X which clearly disadvantages other app stores such as Steam which must be manually installed by the user.

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2 reasons no.

1) the market is not measured by media available on a single platform, it is measured by the total market size, which includes all methods with which to acquire that media, including physical copies. It is not illegal to exert anti-competitive practices unless it actually prevents business. Sony can just as easily sell elsewhere, and the government is OK since consumers can still buy it in that other place.

2) much more importantly, apple is not requiring sony to move books exclusively through their store, they';re just requiring they ALSO have the OPTION of moving books they also carry through their store.

This is being misconstrued as a money grab, but in reality, its much more likely a protection system for all their users with iOS devices who do not have credit cards, and/or for the kids getting iTunes allowances and/or gift cards to still be capable of buying content apple sells (the other models require a credit card, and if many popular apps move in that direction, a significant customer base is disadvantaged).

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Anonymous Coward

Gotcha!

Yo do work for apple don't you - only the most delude fanboy or apple employee would come out with this. You seriously don't understand do you.

REG: Can we have a deluded fanboy icon please. Although, to be honest, 'deluded fanboy' is a tautology.

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Come off it

Of course it's a money grab and of course it's anticompetitive. Apple have a bookstore and users are not required to jump through hoops to use it. The only reason they put barriers for competing apps is to seriously disadvantage them or drive them out of the market altogether.

As for it being a "protection system", well that's a load of crap. If kids don't have credit cards then they can't use these apps. So what? If anything that puts Apple at an advantage because they *will* be able to use the Apple bookstore.

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Black Helicopters

busboy

If you start a lemonade stand, do I have the right to come by and demand that you sell my lemonade, too. If you refuse, aren't you limiting your customers' right to choice? Give me a break. This reasoning is not reasonable.

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Troll

The only problem is.

If you prevent people selling lemonade by any other method, then yes, your limiting your customers' right to choice. Your analogy falls down because anyone can setup their own lemonade stand.

This is not an option on the Ipad, in fact, Apple SPECIFICALLY PROHIBIT anyone else having a lemonade stand, which is the equivelent of your lemonade seller sending around the heavy mob if someone else tries to sell on their patch.

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@RogerThat

Now imagine you're selling lemonade first. Then some kid sets up his own lemonade stand nearby and doesn't like your competition. So he calls his dad who is the sheriff who tells you can only sell lemonade if you give up a cut of your money or only if someone buys the lemonade in advance by telephone. He also applies the same rules to other kids with lemon stands except his own. You may as well just give up.

That's what it amounts to. It is absolutely anti-competitive in every respect.

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AppStores are a god sent for small companies

You don't have to have the bandwidth and CC Payment and stuff.

But this is totally different for a company which has all this in place.

If I'd use an eBay Store or Amazon to sell my stuff, I'd have to share my revenue with them, which would be fine compared to the cost I'd have for setting up my own store.

Amazon, eBay, Sony et.al. do have all that in place and probably much cheaper than I could get it, certainly cheaper than 30%.

On the other hand, can you buy Sony content from Amazon on a B&N Nook?

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FAIL

The solution...

...is to keep buying books - real ones, made of paper.

No DRM, no platform issues (apart from bookshelves). All you need is a mark-one eyeball and some photons to bounce off the surface. Works for centuries without a single recharge.

I'd add a 'joke' icon, except this isn't one. The whole ebook game is scam to rent people things they think they are buying. Avoid.

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They're not always a con.

I have, amongst others, a PDF copy of "The Art Of Assembler" and .txt files of a good percentage of the works of Sir ArthuR Conan Doyle. They cost me nothing.

I am told it's possible to back up Amazon ebooks too, using third-party software. If that's the case the only issue with ebooks is that, over here, uk.gov demand 20% because they're more luxurious than a real book.

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Unhappy

Re: They're not always a con

"I have, amongst others, a PDF copy of "The Art Of Assembler" and .txt files of a good percentage of the works of Sir ArthuR Conan Doyle. They cost me nothing."

Well I wouldn't want to pay much more than that for an ebook.

" the only issue with ebooks is that, over here, uk.gov demand 20% because they're more luxurious than a real book."

And they say the tax man doesn't have a sense of humour!

Seriously though, a physical book is much more than the words contained therein. They can be inspirational things of beauty, to be treasured, collected, and passed on down the generations. The book publishing industry would do well to remember that before they follow the fate of the music labels. There's no such thing as a collectable MP3 file.

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Megaphone

Right you are

and is it not ironic that amazon accidentally deleted Orwell from all kindles? Or did some brave soul want to send us all a warning?

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They're not even books

" the only issue with ebooks is that, over here, uk.gov demand 20% because they're more luxurious than a real book."

You don't buy ebooks you buy a licence for them, like computer software. The problem is not the tax man but the terms of "ownership". i.e. you don't own an ebook.

That wouldn't be so bad if the prices were commensurate with that fact but they're not. In many cases the paper copies are cheaper. I suggest a morally (but not legally) fair workaround would be to buy the paper book and download an unencumbered digital copy.

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