A settlement proposed by the United States Department of Justice could mean the return of the Store button to Amazon’s Kindle apps for iOS.
In the Department of Justice’s proposal for repairing the eBook market that Apple was found guilty of manipulating in July, Apple would be required to allow other eBook stores to have direct links to their marketplaces inside their applications. While that might not seem like such a big deal, that’s huge for Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle apps, both of which had to remove links to their stores or run the risk of having to share their per-item and subscription profits with Apple.
Rather than comply, most companies simply avoided giving Apple a cut of their revenues by removing their online stores from their applications. For example, Amazon Kindle users now need to purchase their books online from Amazon’s website and then sync them down to their iPhone or iPad. For some users, that’s simply too confusing.
The proposal by the Department of Justice would force Apple to allow direct linking for two years. It would also nullify the book pricing agreements that first got Apple and some of the country’s largest book publishers into trouble for in the first place.
It was the Justice Department’s position that Apple colluded with publishers to raise eBook prices to weaken Amazon’s position in the eBook market. In addition to canceling any agreements Apple has with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster, the proposal would also ban Apple from making new book deals aimed at lower pricing for at least five years.
Unfortunately, the Justice Department’s proposal wouldn’t mean that all companies would be able to add in subscription services and purchase areas back to their iPad and iPhone apps. This proposal would specifically apply to those two eBook stores, meaning other companies who were left out in the cold by Apple’s profit sharing rules would still not be allowed to sell their wares in their applications or risk having to give a cut of their revenue to Apple.
Updates for Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage solution were said to be held up for months while Microsoft attempt to negotiate with Apple about its iTunes App Store rules. While SkyDrive is available on iOS now, users must head to SkyDrive.com through their web browser to purchase more storage.
A hearing on possible punishments for Apple is scheduled for August 9th.