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Apple confirms rule change over e-book apps

Apple has confirmed that it wants a cut of Amazon's Kindle sales made via its iPad and iPhone apps. The giant hardware company has said that it will no longer allow apps to sell content via a separate browser link, unless customers are also given the option of purchasing the same titles through an in-app mechanism, which carries a 30% surcharge.

The apparent confirmation follows a day of confusion after Sony said that Apple had rejected its digital-book app because it did not allow customers to purchase e-books within the Apple app environment. It was initially unclear whether this was an Apple rule change or a Sony error.

But Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, told Bloomberg that it had altered some of its requirements: "We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines. 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."

E-bookselling apps such as Amazon's Kindle app allow users to purchase content via a separate browser window that up to now has meant they did not have to pay Apple's 30% fee.

Some websites had claimed that there was in fact no change in Apple's requirements, but that Sony had been caught out after trying to make its in-app purchases available from outside of the Apple app environment.

But, as best we can tell, Apple now requires all apps to make purchases available from within the app store, a major headache for the likes of Amazon, Kobo, W H Smith, and Barnes & Noble. The matter is further complicated since agency terms mean that the same prices must be applied on all e-books wherever they are sold, meaning retailers selling through the app store would take a 30% hit.

Amazon declined to comment to various reporters on whether enforcement of the payment policy will mean it will have to change its Kindle application on Apple devices. According to the New York Times: "It is highly unlikely that Amazon, Sony or others will be willing to share e-book revenue or customer information with its competitor, Apple, which sells its own e-books in its iBookstore." The NYT reported that the change was only being applied to e-books at present.

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Yes, the iPad is heavier than the kindle or the Nook and, yes, it's more unwieldy to hold and get in and out of your bag quickly. But its great advantage as an ereader is the ability to shop in the Kindle and Nook store as well as the iBook store. The iBook store is by far the worst of these stores; it rarely has the lit fiction and new work in translation I'm searching for. If it becomes the only option on the iPad, I will switch over to the color Nook or await the color Kindle. (not a fan of gray-scale screens.) In short, an incredibly stupid move by Apple, undercutting one of the main reasons people buy the iPad.

If Apple had only allowed iBooks, then there would not be an issue. After all, neither Nook nor Kindle allow competitive purchases. However, that is NOT what Apple did. Apple used amazon and Barnes&Noble to further the sales of the iPad. Sony's app looks to be in the same mold as Amazon's. For Apple to do an about face now smacks of immorality. Now if Amazon and B&N make their apps file-share capable, I can get around Apple. I buy my books, strip DRM, and put them on Stanza. In fact, I do not buy iBooks due to the fact that I haven't gotten by the DRM yet. A majority of iPad users are not going to go to the trouble that I do. If Apple doesn't reverse this, I will not buy an iPad II or any other Apple device. You do this Apple, I am gone. You lose me as a customer.

I hope Amazon calls Apple's bluff. If Apple was going to do something this ridiculous, they should have waited until AFTER iPad 2 came out, not before.

Apple seem to be shooting themselves in the foot.

Besides that rumours suggest there's a colour Kindle on the way, no idea on time scale, but Amazon are already asking for Full Colour productions for Kindle Editions.

Apparently Apple has also communciated to developers that "reading only" apps would be affected as well, because Apple would unable to tell where the titles had been purchased.

Thus the Stanza app would also be affected.

There have also been reports that Apple is restricting to 3,000 the number of titles that an app - even an app with payment support through iTunes - is allowed to offer.

Yes, the iPad is heavier than the kindle or the Nook and, yes, it's more unwieldy to hold and get in and out of your bag quickly. But its great advantage as an ereader is the ability to shop in the Kindle and Nook store as well as the iBook store. The iBook store is by far the worst of these stores; it rarely has the lit fiction and new work in translation I'm searching for. If it becomes the only option on the iPad, I will switch over to the color Nook or await the color Kindle. (not a fan of gray-scale screens.) In short, an incredibly stupid move by Apple, undercutting one of the main reasons people buy the iPad.

If Apple had only allowed iBooks, then there would not be an issue. After all, neither Nook nor Kindle allow competitive purchases. However, that is NOT what Apple did. Apple used amazon and Barnes&Noble to further the sales of the iPad. Sony's app looks to be in the same mold as Amazon's. For Apple to do an about face now smacks of immorality. Now if Amazon and B&N make their apps file-share capable, I can get around Apple. I buy my books, strip DRM, and put them on Stanza. In fact, I do not buy iBooks due to the fact that I haven't gotten by the DRM yet. A majority of iPad users are not going to go to the trouble that I do. If Apple doesn't reverse this, I will not buy an iPad II or any other Apple device. You do this Apple, I am gone. You lose me as a customer.

I hope Amazon calls Apple's bluff. If Apple was going to do something this ridiculous, they should have waited until AFTER iPad 2 came out, not before.

Apple seem to be shooting themselves in the foot.

Besides that rumours suggest there's a colour Kindle on the way, no idea on time scale, but Amazon are already asking for Full Colour productions for Kindle Editions.

Apparently Apple has also communciated to developers that "reading only" apps would be affected as well, because Apple would unable to tell where the titles had been purchased.

Thus the Stanza app would also be affected.

There have also been reports that Apple is restricting to 3,000 the number of titles that an app - even an app with payment support through iTunes - is allowed to offer.