Apple’s App Store policies concerning in-app purchases are beginning to force other companies to react.
Amazon.com has already issued an updated Kindle for iPhone application that removes the Kindle Store button. That means anyone attempting to use an iOS device to purchase Kindle e-books will need to route over to Amazon’s Website, instead of being able to order the text via the application itself.
A Kindle rival, Kobo, also removed links to its storefront from within the iOS application-and is actively building a workaround of sorts, in the form of an HTML5 application for the mobile Web. What’s more, the company is angling this “HTML5 eReading Web app” as an “optimized” experience for iOS users, in the process revealing a conflict with Apple.
“Over the past weeks, Kobo has worked with Apple to create a solution that would benefit the iOS eReading community within Apple’s new App Store guidelines,” read a July 26 press release from the Toronto-based company. “Unfortunately, Apple has mandated that Kobo, along with all eBook retailers, substantially change the eReading experience for consumers by removing in-app access to the Kobo store.”
Kobo isn’t the first company to consider an HTML5 alternative to an App Store application. The Financial Times decided to launch an HTML5 Web application, for example, in order to deliver content to multiple devices while maintaining a lock on the customer relationship.
“Faced with the challenge of delivering multiple versions of the same content and with what they see as the punitive terms and conditions of some platform providers,” Forrester analyst Nick Thomas wrote in a breakdown of the Financial Times’ decision, “other publishers are keen to see if the FT model offers a way forward.”
Despite publisher interest, he added, “HTML5 is not yet appropriate for mainstream adoption. But the FT’s initiative is an important salvo in the battle over the future of paid apps.”
Apple’s application policy dictates that developers strip in-app purchasing mechanisms from their offerings. “Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside the app,” read the recently-updated guidelines, according to TechCrunch, “as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content.” In-app purchasing will apparently continue to net Apple some 30 percent of the fee.
If anything, Apple has relaxed its in-app terms since February, when it dictated that media publishers sell subscriptions via the App Store at rates preferable or equal to those offered via other channels, with Apple taking 30 percent of the fees. Apple later stepped back from that part, allowing publishers to sell in-app subscriptions at any desired price.
Whatever the case, it seems as if Apple’s policies are starting to chafe some companies in the mobile-applications space.