Apple likes to shake things up. They've done that with Apple II, the Mac, iMac, iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. They did it with iTunes and the app store. And now, they're doing it again by enforcing an app store rule that said content that are available for purchase outside the app must also be made available for in-app purchases.
The most publicized victim of Apple enforcing this is Sony and it's Reader app. It was rejected by Apple for not allowing in-app purchases of ebooks.
You ask how is this different from what the Kindle and Nook apps already do? It's not. And if I know Apple, look for future updates to these two apps and other apps that draw purchased contents into the iOS devices to be rejected wholeheartedly or be resubmitted into the app store with in-app purchases.
This shows Apple's growing confidence in its iOS platform. Going forward, look for Apple to apply this rule to other media as well. Music, books, video, and even comic books.
And content providers will need to decide just how badly they want to be on the iOS platform. By my reckoning, Apple can move anywhere from 150 to 200 million iOS devices a year and no app developer can afford to exclude themselves from such a market or risk being outcasts.
It's a brilliant business move if you ask me. I get the feeling that while these companies like Barnes and Noble and Amazon, that do have their own ereading platform, might complain loudly in public, I doubt it'll go beyond that.
However, I believe government regulators, right or wrong (depending on where you stand with this issue), might want to take a crack this new development.
At issue is not that Apple is enforcing its rule. In and of itself, it makes sense. Contents that are available for purchase should be made available for purchase within the app to make it easier for access to contents.
The issue is that Apple also wants 30% of any in-app purchases.
We'll see where this goes in the next couple of weeks. Apple has already informed European newspapers that they can no longer offer subscription to iOS users that are purchased outside of the iOS ecosystem.
Perhaps we will see Apple come up with a payment system in the coming months that will address this.
More at ATD.