Apple is stepping up enforcement of its in-app purchasing policy for e-books, bringing it into conflict with Sony and, potentially, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Apple is ratcheting up its policy enforcement for e-book apps, stating
flatly that app-makers such as Sony and Amazon must offer in-app purchasing
through Apple's online storefront if they want to make e-books purchased on
other devices available on Apple's mobile devices.
That has the potential to vastly complicate plans by Amazon.com, Barnes
& Noble and Sony to sell e-books via their apps for Apple mobile devices.
If those companies refuse to offer the ability to purchase e-books via the in-app
option-which has the potential to earn Apple up to 30 percent of the sale
price-then they could face the possibility of e-books purchased via a Website
being unavailable on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.
"We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines," Trudy Muller, a
spokesperson for Apple, wrote in a
statement posted on Bloomberg and other media outlets Feb. 1
. "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. . .with in-app
The New York Times
reported Feb. 1 that
Apple had banned Sony's e-reader app from its App Store
, because the app's
book sales would have routed through Sony's Reader Store as opposed to Apple's
Negotiations between Sony and Apple over the issue had apparently stalled.
"Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules
and this will prevent the current version of the Reader for iPhone from being
available in the app store," reads a
note on Sony's online Reader Store
. "We opened a dialog with Apple to see
if we can come up with an equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this
Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in their bid to seize ever-larger portions of
the e-book market, have created e-reader applications for an ever-broadening
number of devices, including those running Apple's iOS and Google Android.
Given the popularity of Apple's platform, at least one competitor will likely
play Apple's in-app game in order to offer full e-books access.
Apple and other e-book sellers could find themselves squeezed by the
December launch of Google eBooks, the search-engine giant's library of 3
million e-books available online for both free and purchase. Google's eBooks
software allows users to read titles on a variety of devices, including the
Sony Reader, Apple iPad and even-at least for those books without digital
rights management-the Kindle. In response, Amazon
began developing its own Kindle for Web app