The New York Times’ report that Apple declined to approve the Sony Reader e-book app because in-app sales wouldn’t go through Apple sparked much hand-wringing in tech circles. Many felt Apple’s move would encompass not only the Sony Reader app, but also Kindle and Nook apps for the iPad, iPhone, and the iPod touch.
Then, blogger John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal reported an official statement from Apple claiming no change has been made to its guidelines for developers, but that it will now require apps to offer customers the ability to purchase items both outside the app and within the app.
The change is already in place for customers who buy through iTunes, allowing Apple to earn a cut for facilitating the purchase without forcing all content to be bought through iTunes. This means Amazon, for instance, can still sell content through its web site or Kindle device, but iOS Kindle app users will have to sync purchases to their iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and Apple will get a cut of the proceeds.
The question now is how will Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony respond? It’d be hard for a company such as Amazon to back away from the iOS platform now, particularly with its “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” promotional campaign. It would also be difficult to build a new sales site that allows customers to buy both from Apple and Amazon, or from Apple alone.
Sony posted a note on its web site saying it’s trying to find other ways to work with Apple, including avoiding the App Store commission altogether.