What Apple has actually said about One-Off E-Bookreader apps so far and what it has said about Subscription-Content apps
What we've read, for the most part, is what an online news-site paraphrased from whatever Apple said and then interpreted in an extended way as fact, which was repeated by other sites by the hundreds (although ultimately they could still be right if Apple does prove quite that self-destructive and actually tries to apply their 70/30% rule to ebookstore non-subscription, one-off book-sale apps).
We've had quite an uproar since the Apple press release about Subscription-Content Apps on February 15.
In the meantime, many of the quotations we've seen on the general rules of Apple were put into place in November 2010 and are accessible to App developers only, as guidelines for their apps.
However, 3 months after those newly edited guidelines were released, there was a "clarification" given by an Apple media rep about the reason for Sony's eBook-Reader app being rejected -- it was given in response to media questions:
QUOTE FROM APPLE REP TRUDY MULLER ON SONY'S *E-BOOK READER APP REJECTION
In response to the Sony rejection on its e-reader app, Trudy Muller said, on February 1:
' "We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines," Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told Ars. "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 means an alternative option to purchase via Apple rather than just accepting an in-app option to leave the app to buy at the bookseller's store. Again, this quote is for an e-reader app, not a subscription one.]
While that is the only Apple quote about one-off e-bookreader apps, so far, we're waiting for the other shoe to stomp. Until then, the one-off, non-subscription e-book shoe is up in the air.
QUOTE FROM STEVE JOBS in that February 15 press release, the entire focus of which was on Subscription-content apps whether by publishers or subscription-content providers in general (the bracketed comments are mine]:
' Apple® today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store℠, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc. This is the same innovative digital subscription billing service that Apple recently launched with News Corp.’s “The Daily” app... [subscription-based, of course]
“Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO.
“All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.[ This is a harsh rule to some, but original subscription-publishers still get 70% share of revenue with this subscription-app rule. Subscription-content apps provided by an e-book store would be subject to the same split, which would make an e-book store's subscription-app wholly unfeasible because it would leave the online competitor bookstore nothing after its 30% share is given to Apple instead and the other 70% to the original subscription-publisher."We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.” '
It would certainly explain why Kindle for Android DOES offer newspaper and magazine subscriptions while Kindle for iPad does NOT.
Add that the Kindle for iPad app for e-books update was approved by Apple mid-February and it currently offers an option to purchase Kindle books at Amazon via Safari and then brings the customer back to the Kindle app on the iPad. Apple probably won't allow this scenario July 1, unless Amazon gives an option to do an in-app purchase via Apple, but Apple's app rules allow them to decline approval of any Update at any time and they approved this update.
Many feel that if Apple insists on in-app Apple-purchases, Amazon could just no longer offer a link within the app to leave the app to purchase at Amazon via Safari, and the Kindle app would become a reading-app only but one which still allows the Kindle owner to sync the reading material with other Kindle devices.]
I'm not alone in noting that Apple's quotes apply, so far, only to subscription-content when quoting any 70-30% split or requirement that a subscription-publisher's website not be linked to at all within an app for Apple devices.
See bottom FootNOTE for excerpts from Mashable and from The Telegraph.
ALSO, if Amazon and Apple agreed to a read-only Kindle-for-Apple-devices app, with no purchasing offered at all, in the app, this would be one solution.
KINDLE FOR WEB TO THE RESCUE
In the Kindleworld blog article on the coming Kindle for Web, it was noted that this web-app will make Kindle books readable IN FULL on web browsers and will support Chrome OS devices, including the new Chrome OS Notebook, as well as the Chrome browser and other web browsers." Also, Amazon's web app description states that anywhere we have a web browser, we'll see that our Kindle reading library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights are always available no matter where we bought the Kindle books or how we choose to read them.
For this reason and because Kindle books and the ability to buy them via a web-browser will be accessible on Android tablets, it will be Apple's loss if Apple execs decide to discourage Kindle or other ebook-reader apps for Apple devices.
They would no longer be able to say that we can read any ebookreaders' books on Apple devices (except via a web browser, connected to the Net) and it will make Android and probably HP webOS devices much more attractive to avid e-book readers if people find they can't read Kindle (UK: K3), Nook, Sony, or Kobo books offline, directly on an Apple device anymore.
The iPad would no longer be much of an offline-ereader at all when the iBook store has something like 35,000 contemporary e-books for sale vs Amazon's almost 800,000 contemporary e-books.
Today, author Chuck Toporek noted:
' Amazon isn’t worried. They have a solution already in beta testing and it works just fine. Instead of using the Kindle app, iOS users can just point Safari to Amazon’s site, buy the Kindle ebook, and read it right there in Safari. No app required.
Again, Kindle for the Web is just a beta right now, so full text isn’t available at the moment. You can bet Amazon will make a big splash about this, though, once they have all the publishers lined up and ready to go. '
FootNOTE - Others who noted that Apple's quotes refer, so far, only to subscription apps:
' Here's The Telegraph (UK) on Subscription vs "One-Off"
Shane Richmond, Head of Technology for Telegraph Media Group, wrote:' ...That has led to speculation about what this will mean for an app such as Amazon’s Kindle app, which provides a link to purchase from Amazon’s website. It may be that Apple intends to force ebook retailers to offer ebooks for sale within their apps and take 30 per cent of thosee sale. That would force ebook retailers to raise their prices or lose money. Maybe that’s what will happen.'
However, that’s not what Apple has announced today. This is about subscription not sales of one-off products. If you’re a publisher and you want to allow people to subscribe to your publication then you must offer the same subscription price within your app as you offer on your website and Apple will take 30 per cent of the in-app subscriptions. '
And here's Mashable's: Christina Warren drew attention to the fact that the focus of the February 15 announcement was on subscription apps. Here is her take on that aspect:
' Earlier this month, the Sony Reader app for iOS was reportedly not accepted into the App Store because it violated some of Apple’s policies. At the time, it was unclear if the cited policy violations would extend to other e-book applications like those from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Because Apple’s latest remarks concentrate on subscription content, it still isn’t clear to us if these new provisions also apply to other types of apps. We don’t know if this means that applications — like Amazon’s Kindle app that sell purchases a la carte — must now remove links to outside web stores.
The Kindle app for iOS received an update Monday and, for the record, the link to the Amazon Kindle website is still in the app. '
UPDATE - Also note that there apparently is, as written earlier, an awkward restriction with the In-App-Purchasing system in that it might handle no more than 3,000 or so items in a catalog for an app. If true that's certainly an obstacle to in-app purchasing for an e-bookstore. [End of Update]
It's Apple's call if they want to make themselves irrelevant when it comes to the rather wildly surging e-book market.
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