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Apple locks out Sony Reader app, raises antitrust concerns

updated 04:55 am EST, Tue February 1, 2011

Raises questions over the future of Kindle app

Apple has locked out the Sony Reader app from the App Store for violating its store rules policy, according to a report. The Sony Reader app has already made its debut on the Android Market and was expected to appear on the iOS platform. The reason for the rejection, according to the New York Times, is that the Sony Reader app would have directed users outside of the Apple ecosystem allowing them to purchase their content directly from Sony. According to Apple's App Store rules, any app that offers in-app purchases must go through the official Apple portal.


How this news will affect users of the Amazon Kindle app remains to be seen. Based on the rejection of the Sony Reader app, it would appear that the Amazon Kindle app will have to undergo changes to the way it functions or risk being pulled from the App Store. However, such a move could create a backlash amongst users who have already purchased e-books through the app. In the case of the Sony Reader app users have not yet been affected directly, although it does restrict content delivery choices for users indirectly.

The Kindle app may be immune as it simply pushes users out to the browser to buy books rather than handling titles in-app. As such, it could simply be that Apple is enforcing its existing rules rather than toughening its conditions.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey believes that this move could signal a shift in the way that Apple is approaching its business model and the way it can optimize its profitability. In the past, Apple has relied on selling its hardware to turn its profits, with music and other content delivery playing a secondary role.

"Apple started making money with devices. Maybe the new thing that everyone recognizes is the unit economic value is the platform, not the device," said McQuivey.

The move could raise antitrust disputes. It follows a ban on print subscription tie-ins in Europe that has already drawn legal attention. Critics have said the gestures are anti-competitive as they force customers to buy through iTunes with rival stores in place.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Appleman

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Feb 2001

    +2

    Zinio?

    Zinio does the very same and you buy content outside the App Store as well.
    Strange.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2006

    -1

    Don't get it

    There are Kindle and Nook Apps that do the same thing. Is Apple playing hard ball on Sony specifically? Or did Sony f-up relationship with Apple in the recent past?

  1. DerekMorr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2010

    +10

    Unacceptable

    This is unacceptable behavior from Apple. I can't believe anyone would defend them.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +3

    Kindle, anyone?

    Uhm... ok, so the Kindle app opens a webpage where you can buy Kindle content from Amazon, but apart from that, isn't that the same thing that's been criticized here?

  1. leamanc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2003

    +10

    More to this, sloppy reporting

    There is more to this story here, folks. The way this story is written makes too many assumptions, making for some sloppy reporting. With the Kindle app, users buy books at Amazon from any web browser (on any computer or device, not necessarily the iOS device with the app installed), and then the books are delivered to the iOS device.

    Within the Kindle app itself, the only way to "purchase" is simply a link to Amazon itself. The article assumes the Sony app operates the same way, and then makes the assumption that the Kindle app is in trouble.

    But the more likely assumption is that there is an actual in-app "book store" with the Sony Reader app, which is a clear App Store TOS violation.

    Apple is not going to shut down Kindle for having a link to a web page in its app. Nor are they going to stop Kindle for receiving downloads via http. There are hundreds of other apps that do the same.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2008

    -1

    Damn...

    Next thing you know, I'm gonna have an anti-trust suit brought against me because I drink the good beers at my own parties and the guests have to drink Keystone Light.

    Totally illegal and anti-competetive, right?

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    -1

    Not exactly

    They can drink the good beer, but since you own the liquor store downstairs, your guests have to either buy the beer through you, or they have to arrange for delivery from another store.
    They aren't allowed to go downstairs, buy the beer, and bring it upstairs themselves. Too many liabilities.

    And, yes. Even if they made the beer themselves.

  1. droz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009

    +3

    I love everything apple, but...

    I own the iPhone, an iMac, and a Macbook Pro. But honestly I'm starting to see some of the issues people have with the apple ecosystem. I understand it from an Apple business perspective, wanting to have tight control of the user experience. This is, after all, what has made apple products such a hit to begin with. But in some situations it becomes a real burden, and I suspect they are really starting to feel that now. For me, it's worth dealing with the ecosystem in order to have a very clean user experience, but I can certainly see the other side of the argument.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +3

    Re: More to this, sloppy reporting

    Within the Kindle app itself, the only way to "purchase" is simply a link to Amazon itself. The article assumes the Sony app operates the same way, and then makes the assumption that the Kindle app is in trouble.

    But the more likely assumption is that there is an actual in-app "book store" with the Sony Reader app, which is a clear App Store TOS violation.


    Sorry, but the NY Times article specifically stated that the Sony book store also took you to a web page to do your purchase.

    As it states:
    “We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, said Tuesday. “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.”

    So what they're saying is "If you're going to have the capability to buy from the app via a web link, you MUST also allow them to buy through the app directly. They need to add that ability (h***, if I were them, I'd add it, then make sure everything was at 50% markup, and point them with a giant link saying "Get it cheaper buy not going through Apple".

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +1

    Re: I love everything apple, but...

    But honestly I'm starting to see some of the issues people have with the apple ecosystem. I understand it from an Apple business perspective, wanting to have tight control of the user experience.

    Sure, the AppStore makes 'sense' for Apple to keep control of the apps and making sure they decent and all, but they neither have any standards on the quality of the apps, nor any real ability to check for malware. Considering the c*** that was put on the store, it's a mockery of the whole claim of 'user experience'.

    But this isn't even that. This is Apple wanting to control how people now purchase items through the iPhone. Apparently Apple now believes that, since they developed the phone, they should get a cut of anything that anyone does with the phone to make money. What's next? Will they ban the Amazon.com app because you're not giving Apple their cut of each sale?

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