February 1, 2011 | Andy Boxall
Sony’s move to muscle in on the eBook market for the iPhone and the iPad has hit a problem, as their app has been rejected by Apple. Sony promoted the application in November last year, saying iPhone users would be able to download the Reader app, read their eBooks and download new ones from the Sony store, which is exactly what Apple have a problem with.
The reader app has been rejected on the grounds it does not use Apple’s own in-app payments system for the purchase of new books, and instead sends users directly to Sony’s own store. Of course, by doing this, Sony is denying Apple its 30 pieces of silver percent on each book sold, something that they previously turned a blind eye to, but have now changed their minds.
It’s all to do with the forthcoming subscription service expected to be introduced with The Daily, where magazines and newspapers will be using the in-app payment system for some serious amounts, and Apple wouldn’t want to miss out on those; and it can’t be one rule for one and another for another.
Sony’s app has likely been in approval limbo since late last year while all the legal aspects of the App Store’s subscription service were finalized; and in the meantime, a key section of the App Store Review Guidelines has been changed. The article in question is point 11.2, and it now reads as follows:
Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected.
For existing apps already on the App Store, we are providing a grace period to bring your app into compliance with this guideline. To ensure your app remains on the App Store, please submit an update that uses the In App Purchase API for purchasing content, by June 30, 2011.
We think that’s pretty clear. It’s not however, very good news, as we doubt everyone will be happy to hand over another 30% cut of each sale to Apple. What it may mean is that some smaller developers will simply leave, and bigger companies could just inflate their prices accordingly.
Amazon is one of the big names who will have to change, while other eBook apps such as Kobo will have to adapt or leave, while a personal favorite – Zinio – will probably have to do the same.
Sony aren’t all that pleased either, and have left this note on their mobile Reader page, along with a big advert for their Android Reader app:
We would like to update everyone on the status of our Reader for iPhone mobile application. We created an app that we’re very excited about, which includes all the features you’ve come to expect from a mobile reading application – including access to your existing collection, synching with your Reader Daily Edition and purchasing new content as is possible on other mobile platforms.
Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader for iPhone from being available in the app store. We opened a dialog with Apple to see if we can come up with an equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this time. We’re exploring other avenues to bring the Reader experience to Apple mobile devices. We know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the application and we appreciate your continued patience.
As progressive as The Daily’s launch is; the subscription system – clearly a big part of the deal – it brings with it appears to already be causing problems for the average user and developer.