Amazon / Apple Battle Over E-Readers

Published by: Frank Galvano on 2nd Feb 2011 | View all blogs by Frank Galvano
Amazon / Apple Battle Over E-Readers

Apple Inc has issued a response to the allegations that it has changed its App Store policy to affect users of the popular e-reader apps such as Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader.  The company says it has not altered any of its guidelines for developers, saying that content purchased elsewhere has always been prohibited if the content isn't also available through Apple's own system.

The claims of a policy change began Tuesday morning when the New York Times reported that Sony's e-reader app had been rejected based on Apple's restriction of in-app book purchases.  Apple says the move doesn't represent a change in policy, as it does not allow apps to sell content unless the content passes through the App Store, where Apple gets 30 percent of the sale.

The bulk of the outrage comes from the fact that Apple told Sony that its app couldn't be used to access content purchased on other Sony Reader devices.  Users fear that this alleged change in Apple's policy will make their e-books unavailable to their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices.  Apple explained that if an app allows users to access content that they purchase on another site, then that same content must also be made available on Apple's in-app purchasing system.  If the developer chooses not to sell content on Apple's in-app system, then content purchased elsewhere can't be accessed on the app, either.

The policy is notable because it will force Amazon and other e-book sellers to change how their offerings work.  Amazon has already committed itself with its “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” slogan, so it can hardly afford to back out of the iOS platform now.  It appears as if the company will have to restructure its sales mechanisms to allow customers to purchase e-books from both its own site and from Apple.  Sony, meanwhile, says that talks with Apple have reached an impasse, and it is pursuing alternative solutions to bring its Reader to iOS devices.

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