Why can we now no longer buy ebooks on the Kindle app for iOS? Apple's internal emails reveal

Because they wanted iBooks to be "the only bookstore on iOS devices".

Engadget JP (Translation)
Engadget JP (Translation) , @Engadget_MT
2020年08月1日, 午後 04:27 in egmt
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This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.


The U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee held a hearing to allow the heads of major tech companies, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, to testify. In turn, lawmakers have released various internal documents that are supposed to be confidential as part of an investigation into whether those companies violated antitrust laws.

The documents reportedly included multiple emails exchanged by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and others in the process of being unable to purchase e-books on the iOS Kindle app.

You can't buy ebooks within the current Kindle app for iPhone and iPad, and if you want to buy a new one, you'll need to use Safari. This is Amazon's choice, though, to avoid paying Apple the 30% commission that is taken for selling ebooks within the Kindle app.

But until early 2011, you could buy ebooks directly within the Kindle app on iOS. So why was it not possible to do so in the middle of the process? The Verge, an international tech media outlet, reports that the correspondence between Jobs, company executive Phil Schiller and others leading up to that point was in internal emails that have now come to light.

In one email, Schiller explained that he first made a special exception for Amazon (which allowed purchases without using Apple's billing system) because "users can buy a book on their Kindle device and later read it on their iPhone". However, it was also suggested that as sales of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch grew steadily, there would eventually come a time when the special treatment would be eliminated. The first Kindle device went on sale in 2007, and the iPhone version of the app was released in 2009, so maybe they were trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Kindle for the time being.

It's also clear from the email that Schiller actually moved to fix the situation when he saw a new Kindle app commercial on TV. The commercial showed a woman who used her iPhone to buy books on the Kindle app and then switched to an Android smartphone and could still read all the books she bought. While the main message is that "there are many Kindle apps available for many mobile devices," the secondary implication is that it's easy to switch from iPhone to Android, which is "not fun to watch" - Schiller said in the email.

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In another email, Schiller said, "We should tell Amazon that based on their TV ads it is clear that the use of their App now violates our terms and guidelines and that they need to use our In App Purchase system for digital books sales as well". And he argues that if Amazon doesn't comply, it should take a hardline stance, saying that Apple must decide whether to pull the Kindle app from the store or continue to allow an exception to their terms and guidelines for Kindle app.

The email was sent in anticipation of Apple's February 2011 announcement of a new App Store policy on in-app purchases (tightening rules that prohibit links and buttons to external sites that sell content). In response, Jobs said that Amazon "must use our payment system for everything" and that "if they want to compare us to Android, let's force them to use our far superior payment system".

In another email, Jobs also stressed that "iBooks is going to the only bookstore on iOS devices". Apple had just launched its iBooks e-book app in 2010, but the email suggested that the company intended to put restrictions on Kindle that prevented it from making in-app purchases in favor of iBooks, which allows users to buy e-books directly from the app.

kindle

Amazon and other e-book selling services avoid Apple's payment system because, in addition to the fees, they have to choose from predefined pricing (e.g. $120/$250), which makes it difficult to use for e-books with various prices. In the end, to this day, iBooks doesn't have such a large market share, and users suffer the inconvenience of buying from external sites, which may not benefit anyone.

Source: The Verge


This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.

 
 

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