News Column

Apple Changes App Store Purchase Rules

February 3, 2011

In a move set to slow progress by digital publishers, Apple has further restricted how content can be sold through apps that run on its popular iPad and iPhone devices, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

At issue: money. Apple wants a cut from publishers who sell their content through apps.

Apple rejected an app from Sony, the Times reported, that would allow users to buy e-books through the Sony Reader Store and then read them on the iPad.

Apps like the Kindle app from Amazon have skirted Apple's restrictions previously by forcing users into the Safari Web browser to actually buy an e-book. Then, when the reader returns to the iPad or iPhone app, the book is available for them to read.

Apple gets a 30-percent cut from all purchases made through its App Store, including both app purchases and services bought while inside the app.

It seems Apple also wants to disallow the type of procedure that Amazon uses, prohibiting customers from accessing content they have bought outside the App Store.

It's a significant shift for Apple, which is planning on launching its own daily iPad newspaper called The Daily at a news conference today.

Apple has also informed newspaper publishers that it will not allow them to give current print-edition subscribers free access to newspaper content in an iPad app. Doing so would leave Apple out of its 30-percent cut.

It's a big power move from Apple, which has gained a huge head start in the tablet market with the success of the iPad.

Android tablets will face a big test this year as a sea of competitors hit the market to take on the iPad.

But the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the most high-profile Android tablet on the market, has only sold 2 million units, the company said.

Apple sold more than 7 million iPads in the last quarter of 2011.

The main attraction to Google's Android platform, though, has long been its more open nature. Apple _ known for building closed devices that often require content to be bought through Apple _ says it creates a better experience by controlling the software and hardware.

The move today by Apple, though, feels at the outset to be a bit draconian.

There are no doubt thousands of apps on the iOS platform that allow for content from other places to be displayed. Will they all be removed?

We'll see this month where Apple is headed with these new rules. One thing is for sure, though: They've almost certainly made developers pause, which is dangerous on any platform.

Source: (c) 2011, Detroit Free Press

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