Apple Forces Amazon, Kobo, Others to Cripple iOS Applications

Apple Forces Amazon, Kobo, Others to Cripple iOS Applications
posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jul 2011 21:14 UTC
IconPetty Apple is petty. Amazon, Kobo, and others have changed their applications to conform to Apple’s App Store rules, and if there’s one word that describes the situation these booksellers are in, it’s petty. Still, it’s leading to good things: Kobo has announced it’s going to bypass the App Store by writing an HTML5 e-reader for iOS (and thus, for other HTML5-capable mobile devices).

Apple’s new policy states that all in-application purchases must go through iTunes, because Apple gets a 30% cut of the sales there. However, Apple is taking it all a step further, and also does not allow you to link to a website with a store – even if that store is loaded in a separate Safari instance. And just in case that wasn’t enough – you’re not even allowed to mention the store at all, link or no!

Kobo’s James Dovey:

The store was removed because Apple rejected any updates which included it, period. They also rejected any updates which stated that Apple required its removal, or indeed any mention of ‘compliance with App Store guidelines’. It was further rejected for the cardinal sin of allowing users to create a Kobo account within the app. Then it was rejected for providing a link to let users create an account outside the app. Then it was rejected for simply mentioning that it was possible to sign up, with no direction on where or how one could do that. Then it was rejected for making any mention of the Kobo website. Then for any mention of ‘our website’ at all, in any language. We additionally cannot make any assertions that Kobo provides content for sale, however obliquely.

What’s interesting is that it wasn’t the App Store review team that rejected Kobo’s attempts at getting their application update into the App Store – they actually approved each of these changes, only to have the approvals rescinded “from above”. What’s interesting about this is that Apple is specifically doing this to block competing content stores, further forcing people to use iTunes, and locking them into it even more. This is especially annoying for me in The Netherlands, since the iTunes Store is completely useless here – no movies, no television series (local or otherwise), barely any books, nothing. It’s a digital wasteland.

Still, some good has come out of this, as Kobo is going to focus on HTML5 from now on for its e-reader application.

“Kobo believes in providing an open platform for users, and our HTML5 development will support the company’s current app strategy to reach a broader base of users worldwide,” said Michael Serbinis, Kobo’s CEO, “HTML5 allows us to add more features and update our popular Reading Life social experience far more quickly, providing an agile method to deliver advanced enhancements to consumers without limitation.”

It seems the only people Apple is hurting with this are iOS users. Considering how petty the company has been about this, I wouldn’t put it past Apple to cripple HTML5 support on mobile Safari just to further frustrate Kobo’s, Amazon’s and others’ experiences.

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