Apple reject Sony's iPhone app, and the real greed begins

18 February 2011

Apple LogoRecently, Apple began contacting developers concerning a change to the way customers can pay for subscriptions through their apps; any future content must be paid for via Apple, rather than online or through a company's own e-commerce system.

Earlier in the month that change claimed its first major scalp, but it threatens to take many more. According to cnet uk, Sony's ebook reader was rejected by Apple, because it allowed users to buy ebooks direct through Sony, without Apple claiming a 30% share of the retail price.

So how can Sony's attempt to retail through iPhone apps be denied, while Amazon's Kindle app has been selling ebooks through their own payment system for nearly two years? They may not be able to in the very near future; Apple is expecting developers to submit updated apps that channel all sales through Apple by the end of June.

The change may not only affect Amazon and online publications, but it could affect music subscription services too. Those businesses appear to have a very simple choice - let Apple skim 30% from their revenue; increase prices accordingly; or walk away from the App Store. An app isn't strictly needed - web apps can be created for an iPhone browser - however web bookmarks are trickier to market and will mean zero marketing support from Apple.

The precedent Apple has set by rejecting Sony seems like a senseless, greedy change; Apple risk alienating many established companies and driving them to other platforms.

Perhaps Apple has predicted the future, and sees paid-for apps as a dwindling source of revenue, with consumers preferring free apps that allow them to select and purchase content and experiences relevant to them. It may be good news for Apple, but the consumer is likely to face their favourite apps being withdrawn or the price of content being increased.

[cnet uk]

TOPICS:   Gadgets


  • Kevin
    It's bad but all totally understandable and acceptable because of that. Apple totally control their system, for that control and safety, not to mention the consumer base of customers you have to follow their rules. If you don't want to you don't have to. I say acceptable as once this information has been made public (requiring 30%) you can make this choice. Just a pity that everything that already exists is going to be screwed over. Certainly a shooting yourself in the foot time. Now is the time for businesses to decide how much they need the iphone customer base. Maybe they'll work out they don't?
  • clever c.
    Theres an easy way around this, and it's already being implemented. Take for example, the william hill "app". This isn't on the app store, but if you wanted to place bets on an iphone friendly screen, you visit the site in safari, then bookmark the page on your home screen. This gives you access to the site allowing you to login and bet, on a site that is a decent substitution for a downloaded app. Why don't Sony (and others) implement this system, so that users can set up an account online then use this account to buy "in app" purchases? Will hill should give me some free FA cup bets for this free publicity.
  • Phil
    The clever chinaman is right - Also this means they get instant support for any HTML5 phone - so thats Android, WinMob7 and maybe Symbian all for the cost of one website rather than 4 apps!
  • Paul S.
    @clever chinaman - yep, that's the method I mentioned in the story. The issues for the likes of Sony, is that you can't download ebooks to the iPhone's local storage through a web app; all ebooks would have to be held in an online account, meaning they can't be accessed without WiFi or 3G signal. That means purchases couldn't be accessed while travelling, for example. The other issue, as I mentioned, is that it's a little trickier to market bookmarks. Mainstream consumers have been educated iabout app stores and native apps in the past few years; I dont' think there's a high awareness of what web apps are or how they work. Tell a customer you have an iPhone app, and they'll look for it in the App Store.
  • Helpful
    Isnt this story several weeks old? As it turns out, the issue Apple had was that the sony app had direct links to buying ebooks which isnt allowed. Amazon gets around this by sending you to safari web browser and their webstore which is allowed (as Clever chinaman mentions) The sony boss's were just pissed that Apple gave them a slap for being so cheeky and so cried out to all the tabloids about it
  • M4RKM
    something is amiss here. No one is criticising Apple for their rules. Where are all the Sony lovers / Apple haters today?
  • hippy
    this story reminds me of those mob type scenarios about how things get broken if you dont pay your dues. apple is the mob (of wankers) and they trying to bully everyone into giving them more money cos obviously they aint earning enough on thier overpriced shite. Long live android!
  • Steve
    Considering its Sony on the receiving end, ill forgive apple this time ;)
  • Mark H.
    Didn't Apple say that if the subscriber comes from the publishers website then no commission is due?
  • Richaes
    @hippy I don't see why Apple should host Sony on their app store for free. Could you explain?
  • Steve
    There's a simple answer to all of this, stop fucking about with crappy iPhones and get an Android!
  • hippy
    @ Richaes dont they already pay apple to put apps on the app store? A one off charge of $99?? Not exactly apple hosting it for free is it?
  • clever c.
    hmmmmmm i've had another think about this. Couldn't sony get around this by having an app that allows users to download the ebook by entering a code, which is given when you use the bookmarked "app"/online site to make a purchase as i described before? I agree about the lack of publicity that these bookmarked apps get though, i didnt know about the will hill one until quite recently, and thought that gambling was somehow banned on the app store (which it isnt because ladbrokes have a real app).
  • Richard
    @hippy You're right. To a large multi-national like Sony $99 is a substantial sum.

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