Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kindle app for iPad - it's June 30. Hulu has removed its "Buy" button

The Bookseller has reported that while the world (well, the interested-world) wonders what Amazon and B&N will do about its e-reader apps for iPad and other Apple devices, it is now June 30, and the last day that Apple has indicated it wants "compliance with Apple's strict new rules for in-app payment and subscription links."

Apple has said that e-reader Apps are expected to remove from the app any Buy buttons that link to an external store via a web browser, as Kindle for iPad does. Otherwise, Apple wants an option programmed in to buy it in-App from Apple, which would be easier for iPad customers.

Apple rep Trudy Muller had explained, February 1, re Apple's rejection of the Sony e-reader app:
' "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." '
  It's been assumed that Apple's demand would be a 30% cut, which would mean 100% of the Amazon or B&N share of any Big6 publisher book.  However, in connection with that percentage, the only quotes of 30% from an Apple rep were from Steve Jobs during the Subscriptions announcement and then Apple's Internet Services boss Eddy Cue, who said that the announcement applied only to Subscriptions.

  While then it could be possible that Amazon and B&N might agree on something more like 3-5% in order to have a Buy button that would allow iPad owners the option to buy from Apple, it's also possible they wouldn't go for paying Apple whatever fee might be asked, since Apple benefits as much as the other bookstores from having those books readable on its own device and has used that availability in its marketing.  Since iBooks can be read only on Apple devices, the iPad could definitely look less appealing to prospective book-loving buyers, especially those who shop a lot at Amazon and B&N.

  In the meantime, the bookstores could just decide to make their Apple apps read-only and not try to sell books from the Apple apps, since just who does not know how to get to Amazon or B&N these days?

  I had said that Amazon should be able to add wording that the book could be found at their website and do an UN-linked URL to Amazon on the page.

  CNNMoney has an interesting quote from Richard Stephenson of YUDU Media, which has developed mobile apps for magazines including Reader's Digest, who goes further.
' [Stephenson] says he's "pretty certain" that Apple wouldn't block a link that simply says "visit our website."

  "[The problem] is really when you say, 'buy subscriptions from us direct' and there is a clear button to click," Stephenson said in an e-mail to Fortune. "If it's 'visit our website,' then [Apple] will not be able nor wish to block that." '
CNNMoney adds that "Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said he could confirm only that the App Store terms were recently updated, and wouldn't comment on specific apps or whether a "visit our website" link would be blocked."

  Maybe the online bookstores are sending Apple updated apps that are rejected :-).  Those bookstore apps will be on every tablet EXCEPT Apple if apple makes the wrong decision.  Guess who would lose there.

  In the meantime, CNNMoney said yesterday that:
' Hulu updated its iPad app last week to remove a link to its website. The app's opening screen used to feature the line: "Not a Hulu Plus subscriber?  Visit to learn more and sign up."  That line -- and the website link -- are now gone, bringing Hulu into compliance with Apple's rules. '

That's a bit of an indication that a linked "Visit us" may not be acceptable :-)

CNN Money's Julianne Pepitone points out that " booksellers rely on customers buying a steady stream of new e-books to read.  Removing all links from within their apps to make new purchases is pretty user-unfriendly."

Maybe they'll compromise on a small fee.  Apple may actually admit to themselves that iPad sales (and retention) will benefit from certain other bookstore books being readable on their devices, since that's been touted as a feature.

 We should know by tomorrow, I imagine.  I'd think the simplest solution, to keep peace in the bookstore universe, would be for everyone to be on a no-Buy button but I suppose if the price is right we could see one.

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1 comment:

  1. The real losers in this are those who own iPads. On my tiny iPhone screen, buying ebooks directly from the Kindle app is such a hassle, I buy on my iMac and designate my iPhone (or more often my Kindle) as the recipient. But on an iPad, buying is probably much more pleasant and thus worth doing. Even more important, for some people being able to buy on an iPad means not having to own a computer at all.

    I wonder what's really going on. I can't imagine Amazon and Apple not being in talks about this. But I also have trouble imagining either Bezos or Jobs backing down. Both have outsized egos and both, as founding CEOs, are used to having their way. Think of two little boys standing face-to-face on a grade school playground and you get the flavor. "Your mama wears army boots." "Yeah, well your dad doesn't wear shoes at all." That sort of thing.

    I suspect the dynamics currently favor Amazon. If Apple attempts to yank the Kindle app off iDevices, assuming they can do that technically, they'll enrage of lot of their most loyal customers. All of a sudden, those people will find they can read any of their dearly bought Amazon books on their iPads, including those they're currently reading.

    That could lead to a massive class action lawsuit and a lot of negative publicity. Apple has set itself up to loose that one. Amazon has been careful to focus their advertising on Kindles as a way to read books bought from Amazon. In contrast, Apple has stressed in their ads the rich availability of third-party apps. Yanking one of the most popular apps could constitute false advertising, particularly since Apple actually claims to have covertly intended to do that all along.

    Nor will Apple be doing anything clever if it thinks it can just block Kindle app upgrades (as with Sony). That'll only make the Droid platform (phones and tablets) look more attractive. That they can't afford.

    Finally, these attempts to impose hefty, all-your-profits-belong-to-us surcharges on iOS purchases runs counter to Apple's claim to be inaugurating a post-PC era. The ill-chosen term really only means a move to create iDevices that don't need to have a home on a computer. When Apple tries to grab 30% of retail for purchases made on iDevices but doesn't and can't make that surcharge for the same purchases made on a Mac or PC, it's implicitly saying that we all need to keep our Macs and PCs around so we don't get ripped off by Apple.

    The last illustrates why a CEO's ego can often lead to policies that defy both logic and good business sense.


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