Apple is Stifling the Competition

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A few months ago when Sony released their latest generation ebook readers, they also announced that they’d be releasing a Sony reader app for Apple iOS devices.  This surprised me for a couple of reasons.  First, Sony is a hardware company that produces ebook readers, so they only have the ebookstore to support their hardware.  (Just the opposite of Amazon, in other words.)  Second, the app for another hardware platform indicated to me that Sony intended to support their ebookstore.  This made me happy because I have bought literally hundreds of books from the Sony ebookstore, and I wanted to know I’d have something to read them on should the Sony ebook readers fade away from the marketplace.  I’ve been waiting for several months now, and the messages announcing the upcoming app seemed to be less vague.  A release date was announced, then extended

My hopes were raised recently when Sony announced the availability of the Android version of the reader app.  They promised the iPhone/iPod version would be available soon.  I checked daily to see if the the Apple version was ready.  Yesterday, I was thrilled to see their announcement page had changed – until I read what it said.

It seems Apple has tired of companies selling things without Apple getting their cut of the profits.  To prevent paying Apple 30% of the selling price for their books, Amazon didn’t sell books in the Kindle app.  Instead, you were switched to a webpage to search the bookstore and purchase books, then you went back to the Kindle app and downloaded the book.  Apparently Sony was planning a similar approach – purchase the books outside the app, then download them.   Sony announced that Apple had not approved their reader app. They are apparently trying to reach an “equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this time”.

So, there will be no Sony reader app for us for now.  I wonder what this new approach will mean for the Kindle app on Apple iOS devices?

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4 thoughts on “Apple is Stifling the Competition”

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  2. T. Smythe Richbourg

    Don’t be so hasty in assigning full blame to Apple. SONY said they tried to put in the ability to “purchas(e) new content as is possible on other mobile platforms”. Apple clearly states in their developer guidelines (which SONY agreed to by downloading the SDK) that no app will be allowed to have it’s own store, so this is a clear violation of the rules. If you’re going to play in someone’s game, you have to agree to their rules. Using banned equipment or drugs in sports will get you banned from the game, yet no one blames the stadium owners or the league for the violation. It’s in the rulebook. Players agree to play by the rules.

    Many apps get rejected for their first few submissions, and developers have found that they can grab headlines by whining about it, rather than trying to fit into the guidelines. Over time, the ones who tweak their apps to allow for the rules get on the store, and make money. Others stomp off and pout and wait for another platform to come along, crying foul the whole time. The Gadget press, being quick to speculate, assumes the worst and blames Apple, rather than asking the questions they should:

    1) Did you try submitting it without a built-in store function? (There’s a “Store” button in the picture of the app on the SONY announcement page. I would reject it right away, just seeing that button.)

    2) Did they ask the reason for the rejection and get any advice as to how to conform to the rules?

    3) Did they try to leverage code from their existing apps on other platforms, without modification for the iOS user interface?

    4) Were they trying to capture user information without asking through the OS? Capturing user information must be channeled through the OS, to prevent apps from gathering it without the user’s consent, control or clear understanding.

    5) Were they wanting to sell titles that have been labeled for adults without going through the iOS ratings? If I want to block certain content from my device, (as a parent, or just as a user), I want to use the built-in restrictions, not have to monitor each app’s non-standard (or non-existent) method of doing so.

    In the end, they have chosen to participate in the iOS app ecosystem. That carries certain requirements and responsibilities. William Wordsworth (who wrote extensively within the narrow framework of the sonnet poetic structure) said it well in “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room”

    “…In truth the prison, into which we doom
    Ourselves, no prison is…”

    If you agree to the rules of play, don’t complain about them once the game’s in progress. Instead, make use of the framework provided, and spend your time maximizing the features allowed. Exploit the existing rules, if you want access to the credit cards of iPad users. You may find it a very cozy place to work.

  3. I don’t know who to trust least here. Both Sony and Apple are well known for anti-competitive behavior. Since this is all about greed, and not functionality, I would have to say, “a pox on both their houses”.

  4. I’d imagine T.S.R.’s response would be different if this was Microsoft not allowing Apple to release iTunes for Windows because it has a built-in store.

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