I’m trying to get my head around how astoundingly stupid Apple can be.
The new (or possibly ‘it’s always been this way, but now we are enforcing it’) policy of in-app purchases for Apple products smells suspiciously like extortion to me.
It works like this – You download an app, let’s say the Kindle app that I mentioned in my last post. If you want to buy content for that app, in this case a kindle book, you are allowed to go, via a button in the app itself, to the Amazon website where the transaction is made.
Apple has changed this so that, in order to have your app allowed in the store, you must make the purchase available within the app itself. And give Apple 30% of the money you’ve charged the customer.
In the case of the Kindle app – despite not owning the book, not providing the service that lets you browse books and not hosting and serving the file to your device – Apple demand 30%
Amazon do something similar for people who self-publish their ebooks, they take 30%, but in return they run the website, host the file, serve the file and have a pretty robust e-commerce back-end to the website that takes care of all the credit card charges.
Apple do nothing – and charge 30%.
The worst thing is that this is mandated. In my reading of the policy, Amazon will have to offer in-app purchases and give Apple their 30% Amazon will not be allowed to only offer books on their website. They are also not allowed to bump up the price of their ebooks by 30% to cover for the Apple percentage, as that is specifically ‘against the rules’.
It’s not just Amazon, Comixology (that I adore) will be hit in a similar way, as will anyone else wanting to make content for applications in the iPhone/iPad store.
So, what choice does Amazon and other companies have if they want to keep playing in the iOS market?
1) Bump their prices up by 30% across all their outlets in order to pay the Apple tax.
2) Tell Apple to shove their protection racket where the sun doesn’t shine and withdraw from the platform all together.
3) Go to the courts and start making noises about anti-trust and anti-competitive behaviour.
I’m hoping that they go for option 3. I love the Kindle for iPad app, I adore the Comixology for iPad app. I use my Tesco shopping app all the time.
Tesco shopping app?
The Tesco shopping app lets me buy my groceries from the comfort of my sofa. But does my Chicken and Mushroom Fray Bentos pie count as an in-app purchase? Technically it would appear so – in which case Apple may start claiming that they are entitled to get their 30% of my shopping bill.
(I think that Tesco will be safe as the in-app purchasing rules state ‘content’, not ‘yummy pies’)
I await the day that Apple start demanding 30% of the cost of the electricity that I use to charge my iPhone on the same basis. Or that, as Safari can be used to see adverts on the web, that Google hands over 30% of their ad revenue.
Realistically – I see some rumbling of lawsuits from Amazon and others and Apple then backing down.
That, or Kindle for iPad and other similar software going ‘jailbreak only’.