After relaxing its App Store guidelines for iOS apps, Apple may be tightening control of the platform. The move has recently resulted in Sony’s Reader app, which would have brought digital books tied to the Sony Reader ecosystem to be available on the iOS platform, being denied entry into Apple’s applications store.
According to the New York Times, Apple has alerted developers–including Sony–that they cannot sell content or allow customers to access purchases made outside the App Store. This includes content like books, music, videos, and other content and material.
Industry observers are worried that the move to deny Sony’s access to the iOS App Store could signify the end of apps such as Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle apps–the former allows access to digital books and magazines purchased through Barnes & Noble’s website and synchronized with the Nook app while the latter allows content to be read that was purchased from rival e-books seller Amazon from its website.
Apple, for its part, runs and manages a rival digital books marketplace called the iBookstore that integrates with the iBooks app, available for both the iPhone and iPad. Content sold through the iBookstore would be subjected to a revenue sharing with Apple, where Apple would get a cut of the sale price like it does with apps purchased through the App Store.
The move also signify that Apple is placing more value on the platform by limiting access to the iOS ecosystem from rivals. After Apple had opened up the iOS App Store policy to allow apps such as Google Voice to appear, many were hopeful that the move may be the beginning of a shift to a more open platform. However, with the doors once again closing, Apple is now sending a different message.
For Sony to gain entry with its e-reader app, it would have to partake in Apple’s in-app purchase, where e-books sales made through the Sony Reader iOS app would be subjected to revenue sharing with Apple. That means that not only would Sony have to pay authors and publishers to sell the book, it would have to pay Apple for the privilege of doing so for an iOS device.
As Apple is rumored to be working with magazine publishers on bringing subscriptions and periodicals to the content consumption tablet, the move to limit access to content, like e-books from Sony’s Reader app, not purchased with Apple’s in-app purchase system may be a preemptive effort.