Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Does Apples in-app-purchase allow > 3,000 items sold? Readability app rejection

I've no idea how accurate the assumptions are in the stories below.

Ubergizmo.com's George Wong writes that in connection with the Apple subscription pricing brouhaha much discussed last week, he's apparently found that:
'...the catch is that Apple’s in-app system has a restriction of being able to only sell 3,000 items – Amazon and Kobo each have around 2.5 million different books available.

  And unless Apple removes this restriction and increases the amount of items that their purchasing system can store, these major book stores will have no way of using iOS to sell their books through in-app purchases, thus putting them in violation of the App Store rules.

  When June comes around, these apps will not be able to comply with the rules and will be pulled out of the App Store, and opening up the field for Apple to come in with their own bookstore service.   And Apple will obviously be able to bypass their own rules since it’s their app store after all. Sneaky? Definitely. Fair? Who’s to say. Let’s see how this situation gets resolved in the coming months. '

But here's another aspect
Venturebeat.com's Matthew Lynley writes that the team behind the popular article tool "Readabiity" (which strips unnecessary material from the body of an article, presenting just the essentials and in a more readable way often) was one of those that had an application rejected, as they did not use Apple's in-house in-app purchase (IAP) service.

Lynley thinks that Readability might be the first company that works closely with Apple (Readability appears in Safari) to publicly trash Apple's new service.  (He wrote an open letter to Apple yesterday, "attacking the company for a 'new policy [that] smacks of greed.' "

Richard Ziade, Readability's creator said that Subscriptions represent a “sliver of a sliver” of revenue for Apple and Lynley said that's true — "most of Apple’s revenue comes from iPhone, iPod and iPad sales. Apple brought in $26.7 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter last year, and only $1.1 billion of that came from the iTunes store — which includes app sales and in-app purchases."

 I guess they were tired of it being a sliver.

In pointing out Google's more welcoming way with developers, Lynley claims that "Google recently overtook Nokia and other phone manufacturers with the largest mobile operating system market share.  And despite a few hiccups with the application approval process, most apps make it onto the Android Marketplace without having to pass through anything like Apple’s black-box approval procedure."

In also saying, though, that
'Google also launched a more publisher-friendly Google One Pass that will allow publishers to sell subscriptions with better terms than they can get with Apple. And Google is only taking a 10 pecent share of the revenues, '
he doesn't mention (or doesn't realize) that the 10% deal is for subscriptions that are WEB-based and must then be read by accessing the web.

Also, for actual Android device apps, Google does charge 30%.  "However, unlike Apple, Google allows publishers to avoid selling within the app and instead to send customers to a mobile Web browser to make a purchase (NYT)." '

Lynley adds that Ziade apparently said that the new Apple policy feels like a greedy move... and Lynley wonders "if the new subscription plan will be the final straw for developers across the board.  But for Ziade, and for Readability, it looks like enough is enough."

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  1. "Works closely with Apple"? I thought Apple had put Readability into Safari without even telling Arc90 they'd done it? Certainly their blog post on the subject:


    would seem to suggest that's the case. ('Update: We’ve since discovered that Safari’s “Reader” feature is, in fact, based upon our own Readability.')

  2. Why can't Kindle app for Ipad ditch the buying option completely and then just let the user go and browse Kindle store from the web-browser independently from the app, buy there, and have their book delivered to the device, and then read with the app?
    Apple doesn't prohibit browsing the web or restrict the access to Amazon website. Then, why all the fuss?
    I think, companies should stop regarding customers as a herd of sheep - they don't go to a store because they were prompted by a program to do so; they go to a store because they like it and because it's competitive.

  3. Matt,
    That 'works closely' was what Lynley said, and I agree that this description is not appropriate :-).

    I thought, well, to just 'take' it then doesn't seem Kosher and saw this from a commenter to Readability:

    "I don’t know if you are aware, but Safari Reader is based on arc90 Readability itself. If you go to Help > Acknowledgements, the 2nd item acknowledges this -

    “Arc90 ( Readability )
    Copyright © Arc90 Inc. Readability is licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0"

    So at least they observed the ackknowledgement process. But to not even LET READABILITY know? Maybe because that might invite a fee for being in an app that Apple will take revenue from.

    HOWEVER, to then reject Readability's app outright is pretty insulting. Did you see the alleged email from Steve Jobs to Readability about this?

    Thanks for the alert.

  4. Typity,
    Yes, I agree that Amazon should just ditch the buying option completely, as people interested in Amazon Kindle books know how to go to Amazon :-) It's more of a hassle, but life can be arduous.

    Some developers say the hidden developer guidelines (changed November 2010) do not allow for a read-only app and that an option to buy from Apple via the in-app purchase option must be there.
    That may be so for subscriptions and/or e-books. No one knows for sure if they're applying that to e-books, because they haven't said yet. A lot of assumptions have been made, but Apple has been variable on how it 'enforces' its guidelines.

    Apple's quoted clarification to Sony this month re the rejection of the Sony app quite clearly says that "if" an offer is in the app, to sell outside the app, then the in-app purchase via Apple, then the bookseller must "also offer" the option to buy from Apple.

    So, I also hope that just getting rid of the option, within the app, to buy from Amazon via Safari, will be the solution although I'm glad the Kindle-for-Web will allow reading on the Apple devices via the browser even if connected to the web via WiFi etc.


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