eBooks: And the rest follow – Apple strong arms the eBook readers

by on Jul.26, 2011, under Articles, Books, Computers, Information Technology, Technology

Remember back in February I talked about some of the shenanigans Apple was pulling with eBooks? Namely that they lobbied to get the industry to sell eBooks on an agency model and then setup their app store to take a percentage cut of sales. This combined with the agency model made it so that all non-apple e-book distributors selling their books directly via an app, rather than via a website, paid all their profits to Apple? Also do you remember iFlowReader? A small time eBook reader that had to removing itself from the app store (and effectively dying) because of these policies?

At the time it was not clear if perhaps Apple was even going to enforce these policies, since they hadn’t before and yet, suddenly, the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo apps no longer sell eBooks, and the Google Books app is mysteriously missing from the App Store. This came only after Apple “relented” by saying that all Apps didn’t have to sell everything that they sold outside of the store, as long as the app didn’t provide an easy way to get to the alternative purchase area. Basically Apple told everybody: “If you sell eBooks, you have to sell them in the App, and let us take all your profits. Otherwise you have to remove your apps.”, then Apple came back and said, “Okay we won’t remove your apps as long as you make it so you can’t sell anything in your eBook reader. It’ll be a viewer only. Not even a link to your websites.”

This is what I am scared of when we see App Stores becoming the future. Their convenience does not outweigh the market control we’re giving Apple and really any other “App Store” gate keep out there such as Google and Backberry. The fact that Apple is pushing Apps for their desktops is a disturbing trend. A desktop that can only run Apple approved software? Apple approved websites?

I’m using exaggerated rhetoric to help you see how these maneuvers by Apple are amazingly anti-competitive. They’ve maneuvered in two completely different arenas (publishers and the app store) to create an amazing combo where in nobody can sell eBooks in the App Store for a profit but Apple itself, and have managed to mostly look like a responsible and sensible corporate citizen protecting their investment while doing so.

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