WTF Apple blocks In App Store Purchases Of Major EPublishers on IOS - Kobo, Kindle, etc

BamelinBamelin Registered User regular
From my understanding Apple had enacted new rules which required Ebook Stores to give a 30 percent cut to Apple of any purchases made through an In App store. Under the agency system Ebook stores have to give 70 percent of sales to publishers with a 30 percent profit margin (or something like that) for the ebookstore. So basically the new profit would be 0. This has resulted in all Ebook Stores being forced to remove the ability of customers to purchase books "in App" on IOS (with the exception of Ibooks of course).

So Apple is basically engaging in bullshit super anti competitive practices aimed at trying to prop up Ibooks.

It should be noted that the only way the Kobo App developer could even let their customers know what was going on was by posting this on Itunes in the reviews section ... any attempt to do so in the app itself resulted in Apple rejecting it.
On Store Removal

by alanQuatermain

I work for Kobo, and it appears that this is the only means through which I can alert users to the reasons for the changes in the app I wrote. Every other mention has resulted in the app being rejected by Apple, even as they allow other applications to do so.

The store was removed because Apple rejected any updates which included it, period. They also rejected any updates which stated that Apple required its removal, or indeed any mention of 'compliance with App Store guidelines'. It was further rejected for the cardinal sin of allowing users to create a Kobo account within the app. Then it was rejected for providing a link to let users create an account outside the app. Then it was rejected for simply mentioning that it was possible to sign up, with no direction on where or how one could do that. Then it was rejected for making any mention of the Kobo website. Then for any mention of 'our website' at all, in any language. We additionally cannot make any assertions that Kobo provides content for sale, however obliquely.

It should be noted that throughout this process we have worked closely with the App Review team at Apple to approve every change we have made. Those approvals were then rescinded at the request of the nebulous 'from above', i.e. someone further up the management chain.

I should note, however, that the Borders app for the US was subject to almost NONE of these restrictions. This is all the more amusing since the Borders US app is built from the exact same source code, with a different colour scheme and titles.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our contacts at App Review for their attempted help. They are obviously being placed in a very difficult position.

There you have it. Hopefully people will read this review and understand that none of the changes in v4.5.1 of the Kobo app happened by our own design. We have always intended to provide users with the best experience possible. It looks as though that is not allowed now; our every attempt to provide guidance to our customers has resulted in the rejection of our app. For that I am truly sorry.

This really sucks. I use Kobo on my iPad extensively and this strikes me as being SUPER anti competitive. Basically the only publisher that will be able to have an in app store now is Ibooks ... it's bullshit really and VERY unfriendly to customers.

One thing's for sure I will NEVER buy an Ibook EVER thanks to this. And I may even end up switching to Android as a result.

More here: http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/monday-midday-links-apple-flexes-its-app-store-muscle/

and here: http://blog.kobobooks.com/iosstore/#comments

Bamelin on

Posts

  • MonoxideMonoxide Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2011
    This change was made to the Terms of Service months ago. App developers have known about it since, and had plenty of time to make the appropriate updates, and add language to steer customers in the right direction.

    It's not a customer friendly policy, but it isn't explicitly aimed at eBook publishers. Really, it's the only place where this doesn't make sense. Apple can't impose a 30% cut of all eBooks sold through its apps because Amazon (or Borders, or B&N, etc) do not set eBook prices. Taking 30% of an eBook sale means in some cases, they'll actually pay Apple, and lose money, for each eBook sold. In this case, I agree with you that this sucks.

    However, if you look at other subscription services (such as Gameloft's MMO, Order&Chaos, for example), they've essentially set up a revenue stream inside of iOS that can't exist outside of its confines. They keep heavily discounting the game client, and then expecting users to pay monthly through their payment system. Other apps have taken it even further, in that they'll allow you to download a game for free, but then charge you to "unlock" the full version. This does include the 30% cut to Apple if handled through IAP, but not if handled through a link to their online store. This method blatantly attempts to get around paying Apple their cut. The new policy prevents this.

    Back to the eBook situation. This introduces a little bit of confusion for customers, since eBook stores are obviously not going to give up 30% of their book sales in order to sell through their apps. Ultimately, though, it really isn't much of a big deal. Go to the Kobo web store and purchase your books. Go to the Kindle site and purchase your books. You can do so right from your iDevice, the same as you've been doing all along, except you have to open Safari (or your browser app of choice) instead of clicking on a button that opens the same exact storefront in a UIWebView.

    Monoxide on
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Who'd have thought that a company that vends tightly controlled hardware/software with margins that you could drive a truck through would do such a thing? It's almost like they want to make money and don't really give a shit about customer choice.

    I don't have a Kobo, but I'm still able to buy Kindle books and then consume them on my iPad, presumably taking Apple out of the transaction.

    It's not really crippling to me to not be able to buy "in-app" though I suppose there are usage models where that would be annoying.

    Djeet on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.

    This is basically what's happening. Developers aren't allowed to have links in the app to buy things on their site, but I think that most people know that you can go to amazon.com to buy Kindle books, for example. And then they're still automatically sent to your iPad or iPhone and you can read them in the Kindle app.

    I don't know why the Kobo devs are raising such a stink. Yes, it's shitty of Apple to do this, but like Monoxide says this is not a sudden development. They've known about this for months. The thing with the Borders app is weird, I'll grant that, but I think that's an exception that will soon be changed. Kobo isn't the only one that has to deal with this.

  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    I believe they're partly raising a stink because as-of when stink was raised, the Borders app, which is based on Kobo still had in-app purchases available

  • AbracadanielAbracadaniel Registered User regular
    Oh, and as others have said, publishers and developers have known about this for months

  • SpoitSpoit *twitch twitch* Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.
    Isn't that what the review thing in the OP was about? that the only way they had of notifying users of the change, much less direct them to the alternative purchasing site, was through the review feature?

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  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.

    Except you can't as a developer. You try and mention in any way that there's an alternate avenue to purchase content and BAM, app banned.

    Of course, Apple were originally going to be even bigger dicks about this and forbid content providers setting a different price for content outside the application (specifically a cheaper price). Once the threat of law suit was mentioned due to that being blatantly fucking illegal they dropped that restriction. Just like they dropped their ban on cross compilers a week before the EU was going to start an investigation into the issue.

    Apple really are the most weak-assed bullies ever.

    I have a thoughtful and infrequently updated blog about games http://whatithinkaboutwhenithinkaboutgames.wordpress.com/

    I made a game, it has penguins in it. It's pay what you like on Gumroad.

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  • MonoxideMonoxide Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2011
    Spoit wrote:
    bowen wrote:
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.
    Isn't that what the review thing in the OP was about? that the only way they had of notifying users of the change, much less direct them to the alternative purchasing site, was through the review feature?
    I don't know what the wording they were trying to get through was exactly, but the Kindle app description spells it out pretty clearly
    • Shop the Kindle Store by visiting Amazon for over 950,000* Kindle books, including New Releases and 107 of 111 New York Times Best Sellers*. Over 610,000* of these books are $9.99 or less, including 79 New York Times Best Sellers.
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle/id302584613?mt=8#

    Monoxide on
  • JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    Monoxide wrote:
    I don't know that I entirely buy the
    Spoit wrote:
    bowen wrote:
    It seems like the obvious way around this is to direct users to a web service where you buy ebooks on a website and just allow users an reader on multiple mobile devices for free. Problem motherfucking solved.
    Isn't that what the review thing in the OP was about? that the only way they had of notifying users of the change, much less direct them to the alternative purchasing site, was through the review feature?
    I don't know what the wording they were trying to get through was exactly, but the Kindle app description spells it out pretty clearly
    • Shop the Kindle Store by visiting Amazon for over 950,000* Kindle books, including New Releases and 107 of 111 New York Times Best Sellers*. Over 610,000* of these books are $9.99 or less, including 79 New York Times Best Sellers.
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle/id302584613?mt=8#
    Aren't we already aware that app store approval/rejection is completely arbitrary and subject to no actual review process except for that caused by public outcry when specific content is banned? It's completely unsurprising that different standards would be applied to different apps, and it's totally understandable that the kobo devs put that up since appeal to outrage seems to be the only thing that ever gets one of those decisions overturned.

    The less anti-competitive thing to do would have been to have content whose price is not set by the creators of the app subject to an exemption or a lesser cut to Apple, but since they have the iBookstore of course they wouldn't do anything like that.

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  • TOGSolidTOGSolid Drunk sailor Seattle, WashingtonRegistered User regular
    It's almost like they want to make money and don't really give a shit about customer choice.
    When has this not been the case with Apple?

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