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It seems like every move that Apple makes results in a firestorm of speculation -- an unfortunate side effect of being a company veiled in secrecy. Cupertino’s latest move is the rejection of a Sony Reader app, which has everyone sounding the death knell for other e-reader apps on iOS.
The New York Times is reporting that Apple has rejected an official Sony Reader app, apparently because the app allows users to circumvent the App Store and purchase e-books directly from Sony’s own ecosystem. Unfortunately for those reporting this as news, Apple has had this policy in place pretty much from the beginning, which is why Amazon’s Kindle app, for instance, takes you to Mobile Safari to shop for e-books in the first place.
What the reports are mostly focusing on is the last bit of this second paragraph from The Times report: “The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.”
The president of Sony’s e-book division, Steve Haber, was specifically told by Apple that the Sony Reader app was rejected because it “would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store.” Now The New York Times is assuming that Apple will target Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and other such apps.
“This sudden shift perhaps tells you something about Apple’s understanding of the value of its platform,” a consumer electronics analyst at Forrester Research told The Times. “Apple started making money with devices. Maybe the new thing that everyone recognizes is the unit of economic value is the platform, not the device.”
It seems highly unlikely at this stage that Apple will simply prohibit companies like Amazon and Sony from allowing their customers to load already-purchased content into their apps -- can you imagine that Apple would ever stop you from loading your own music or videos onto your device?
“It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Sony’s Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store.”
Not surprisingly, both Apple as well as Amazon declined comment -- for now.
Update: And just like that, Apple has issued a statement to All Things Digital's John Paczkowski on the matter, claiming that they have not changed their App Store policies.
"Apple’s made no change to its App Store Guidlines, it’s simply enforcing a rule that’s been in them all along: apps that offer purchases elsewhere must support in-app purchases as well," Paczkowski wriites on his Digital Daily blog.
“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” company spokesperson Trudy Muller told Paczkowski. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
Now you know...
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter