back to article Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo bow to Apple sales edict

Booksellers Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have removed links to their web-based stores from their apps for the iPhone and iPad, and the Google Books app has vanished completely. In February, Apple issued an edict that required all apps offering content for sale or subscription to do so through the App Store, and not through …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    God forbid...

    There actually be competition. I guess the fanbois are confused by multiple vendors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, Google doesn't like competition either

      From "Android Market Developer Distribution Agreement"

      4.5 Non-Compete. You may not use the Market to distribute or make available any Product whose primary purpose is to facilitate the distribution of Products outside of the Market."

      I guess Google is just waiting for the storm to pass to make the call.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You forgot to use <whiny voice> tags


    2. Anonymous Coward

      @NoneSuch, Eh?!

      What has this decision got to do with consumers?! They don't dictate what companies do, they may influence it to a certain degree but rarely make the polciies. Apple made the policy and you can't tell me Amazon and Google don't have the legal clout to fight this? The companies decided to make the policies and the others decided to bow to it for whatever reason.

      You must have some serious issues with Apple customers/fanbois to come with such utterly blatent codswallop!

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        @Anonymous pussy, 7:39

        >>What has this decision got to do with consumers?<<

        I think they're the people that buy and use the apps...

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge


      An ebay equivalent would be to have a URL link in your auction with the message "Click here to buy outside of ebay and save the fees".

      Of course it ain't going to be allowed.

      1. Ragarath


        That you wrote the ebay app and not ebay though.

        Your app that you wrote should be allowed links to where ever you like. It is the app being offered in the store (Apples Part) not the extra bits.

        lets go with a car analogy (even though they are mostly useless,) You brought a Ford car sold through XYZ motors (though it would have to be free to match, told you analogies are tricky things.) You can now no longer buy parts r extras except through XYZ motors.

      2. John Dougald McCallum

        Not using Pay Pal

        A lot of the sales/auction pages that I have seen on eBay do give out Phone numbers to buy the item that is for sale especialy if that seller/dealer has a bricks and mortar site.

    4. fuego

      * Yawn *

      God forbid you might change that broken record...

  2. Random Handle

    Bow to Apple Sales Edict?

    More of a 'whatever' than a bow really....and hardly the result Apple were hoping for.

    1. DF118
      Thumb Up

      Exactly what I was thinking

      It's hardly "knuckling under" when all they've done is say "well alright you take your ball home you greedy little oik; we'll still be here when you come back".

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like ...

    Jobs/Apple is becoming the Online version of the Murdoch Empire.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Why not go the whole hog, eh?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Not possible

        iTat may just work, but Apple don't pretend it makes you free.

  4. Stephen Clifford

    Be interesting..

    Be interesting to see if any other companies follows the example of the Financial Times and just drop their app completely and just develop an Iphone/Ipad optimised 'webapp'.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Big Brother

      It's what I'd do.

      And I'd try to work 'FRO' into the url somehow.

      Just in case someone was, you know, err , watching.

      1. scarshapedstar

        Better yet...

        You can't spell FNORD without FRO.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I guess Android is the only half-decent option for a smartphone, eh?

    1. Frank Drebin


      Agreed, tnovelli. I often surmise the iPhone vs Everything Else (tm) debate for my non-nerd friends whom are in need of guidance like this -

      Go for Apple if you want to:

      1) Look like you are winning at life.

      2) Have everything from configuration to what you're allowed to access/consume on your device decided for you.

      3) Enjoy a generally very stable and well-supported product and ecosystem.

      Go for Android if you:

      1) Don't shit gold nuggets.

      2) Know what you're doing & how YOU want to use YOUR device.

      3) Don't mind constant bugs/random cockups that can go unfixed for months - on account of the myriad parties who could be responsible for said cockups, but who all play dumb & summarily ignore your cries for help.

      Or more succinctly:

      In the Jobstatorship, you sell your soul so that everything just works.

      In the Android hippy commune, its smelly disorganised chaos... but you're gloriously free.

      1. mrunix

        utter npnsense, on both sides

        1 - apple stuff:

        you cannot see 3/4 of the web, because some dictator Jobs doesnt want adobe to exist or make money the same way he does. Long live free enterprise, until you dominate the market.

        exit iphone and ipad and i-whatever, except OSX until that stops doing flash too.

        who wants a crippled device, and not even own it or use it at will at premium price ?

        quite a few people, apparently... :-)

        the funny thing is, the ipad crowd is overpaid, overaged and not conforming to apples imago

        that's promising :-)

        2 - android whatever:

        seek and you will find what works. find and you will seek more.

        and be disappointed, regularily.

        but save a lot of bucks, and things DO get better, wether google likes it or not.

        that's promising, too... :-)

        3 - be happy with either of the two. or both. it is possible...... :-)


      2. pan2008

        there is a third option...

        it's called Windows phone, it's like apple take or leave it but at least you don't have to pay through your nostrills. Other apps that compete with microsoft are allowed too.

  6. zen1

    Is it just me

    or has this shit gotten entirely out of hand? In my opinion it's like one auto manufacturer suing another because they both make use of door openers or spot welds.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Where angels fear to tread?

    Okay - I'll buy the bait and respond.

    But first! A no-brainer!

    I am sure a lot of people will know about some of the deviancy that exists out there on the web.

    The flyby, hacking, phishing, ... sort of stuff. And boy - it does seem to get everywhere.

    At least one organisation says something like: we know there are lots of security issues out there and the only (as in O-N-L-Y) way to make things safer for our customer base is if we set standards and maintain those standards ourselves. We would like to rely on 3rd parties to observe these but some actions on things internetted either by lax security or intervention by malice means we have to take on the job ourselves.

    We hope our esteemed customers and cherished suppliers will understand even if some posters at El Reg don't.


    1. M Gale

      Until the next drive-by rooting exploit?

      See title.

    2. CD001


      Except that would imply that Apple are taking responsibility for the security of "your" device - can't see them doing that; the first monkey to get hit with an exploit on their iDevice would be able to sue Apple for not preventing it.

      All Apple are doing is saying we don't trust anyone else to mess with our shit - take it or leave it. Which, to be honest, is fair enough - BUT it does lead to situations, like the AppStore business, where Apple can happily say "It's our platform, don't like it? Then walk - take the hit to your sales" and if the platform doesn't warrant the 30% cut to Apple, then businesses WILL walk.

      In a healthy, competitive market that's fine, you don't like it you CAN walk, it's only when a company with that attitude gets close to becoming a business monopoly that problems arise.

  8. dssf

    Sure, Surely,

    Surely, there's a LAW for (err, against) that?

    Is Apple going to become the Digital Mobster/Mafia? It might be interesting to find out the presence or pervasiveness of mob-like mentality on the Apple board. Then again, it's Apple's walled garden, and it doesn't want weeds, begonias, or triffids gaining a foothold, hhehehehe...

    (I *AM* serious, and no, I'm not calling anyone "Shirley"...)

    1. CD001

      As far as

      As far as I understand it - it's perfectly fine for Apple to pull stunts like this so long as there are alternatives... if they were in the position of an effective monopoly then different rules would apply and there _might_ be a law against it (ask Microsoft).

  9. JeffyPooh


    An iphone App can't have a non-iTunes 'store/buy' button; but (obviously) an iPhone formatted webpage can have whatever buttons they want.

    So it would seem to be simple to "host" the offending button off-device, on a specifically-formatted webpage being displayed in a manner that is indistinguishable from an App. Or even just a button-sized browser frame within the App.

    If that's not good enough, then the App should just install a Home Page shortcut (icon) that points to a specifically-formatted webpage. Done correctly (non-trivial effort), one could make a pretty good App-looking webpage by replicating the GUI in the browser window.

  10. anon01789

    Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo bow to Apple sales edict

    I'm sirprised that Amazon are not big enough to give Steve jobbs a bXXXdy nose.

    If I was Amazon CEO now, I'd remove all Apple hardware permanently

    1. Jazz Kilkullen

      Oh gosh that would be good.

      For starters, Amazon wouldn't be able to see how competitive products work. Or work better.

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Remember folks, for some Rupert Murdoch is a "role model"

    Not an evil dictator seeking to control how people think and crush any ability to complain about his behavior.

    Who might see him this way.


  12. Britt Johnston

    wild west

    People complaining about the sheriff's cut should consider both the bandits and the low quality of life back east. Things will eventually get better, and taxes will go up, even if higher taxes aren't the cause of any improvement.

    1. MrCheese

      What's this got to do with quality though?

      It's all very well and good claiming that the Apple Tax pays for security, peace of mind and a warm barritone voice soothing you to sleep with warm reassurances that you're just better than everyone else but in this case it's paying for none of those things!

      Amazon et al aren't trying to set-up a rival appstore (sorry Mr Jobs...i meant app-store, no , no....soaftware market?) and nor are they trying to sell sub-standard and insecure apps as the walled garden police have vetted them already. No, Jobs looking to monetise everyone else's revenue streams and one can only assume it's because he's running out of ideas (or run outo f ideas to buy at least). Remember it's not Apple who create the contents of the appstore is it?

      Personally I don't see why such big players are bending over so readily.

      1. David Evans

        @Mr Cheese

        They're *not* bending over so readily. Apple have said "if you want to sell through an iApp give us 30%"; they've said "fuck you Apple" and cut the links. Be interesting to see who blinks first, and who customers complain to; do they moan to Amazon that they can't order Kindle books anymore, or do the more enlightened ones complain to Apple for forcing vendors off the platform? I think someone should do some "test complaints" to see what the response is from the respective companies.

        1. thesykes

          if I was doing the replies...

          They'd go along the lines of "Sorry, Apple told us to remove the link, to the detriment of our users, including yourself. However, if you purchased a Kindle Device, or, alternatively, used an app for Android or Windows smartphones, the ability to buy direct from your phone is available"

          I may not bother Apple but, it'd make me feel better.

  13. Syren Baran

    30% cut for owning the plattform?

    So i'll assume MS is looking for ways to monetize iTunes on Windows anytime now ...

  14. Scott Mckenzie

    I struggle to see the problem?

    They're not saying people can't subscribe or buy outside of the App store, but they sure as hell aren't going to publicise it.

    I can read magazines from Zinio across all devices, but I ONLY read them on my iPad as it suits the environment so much better - that's a personal choice and it's convenient. For a great many other people that's just it too, it's easier - if i want to download a book, it's easier for me to do it straight from the device I have in my hand rather than bugger off to a separate web page to enter more details, sign in, go through a number of steps etc - for the end user they pay the same price so aren't bothered.

    The retailer has a choice to make, sacrifice 30% (but don't have to worry about your own subscription model for the device, don't have to pay transaction fees for the payment etc) and be on the most popular device out there. Or don't. Provided your gross margin is more than 30% it's an absolute no brainer - you're making something, not as much as you could, but something from the sales and you're on loads more devices.

    I'm sure the techies will be in uproar about it as they're happy for redirects, clicks etc... but my mum is much happier to tap once, enter a password and have a new book for exactly the same price as going through the other process.

    1. nsld


      Problem is they still have to have a sub engine for all the other customers out there so no reduction in costs merely a 30% iTax to supply goods to people with Apple products.

      1. Scott Mckenzie


        I don't dispute that, but my point still stands - provided the margin is able to cover that 30% they're still making money from people who want an easier life. They are perfectly within their rights and end users are too, to buy direct and i'm sure they'd prefer it to not have the cut taken away....

        Sure the etailer may be getting a harder deal but if they weren't making money they'd not do it. The end user (namely us!) doesn't care, we get something for the same price but much more easily.

        Like I say, i don't see the big deal.

        1. NorthernSands

          Huh? You serious?

          @Scott: "i don't see the big deal": Then you are very short sighted! You appear to be exactly the kind of person that Apple want to buy their products; an absolute simpleton with one's head buried in the sand!

          30% is a HUGE amount to take off the cost of something so competitive as an ebook. Please don't forget that, in the UK, ebooks are subject to VAT (at 20%) whereas physical books are not, yet they have to remain competitive. Do you honestly expect them to remain competitive when you've taken off half the price?

          Don't you think that the pricing model was carefully worked out at Amazon and Barnes & Noble etc to determine exactly what they can charge for an ebook? Do you honestly think they factored in a 30% loss? Are you really that naive? It's not like they knew this was coming, Apple moved the goal posts.

          Who would you complain to if the ebook sellers took the other route and charged ~43% EXTRA for the ebooks if bought via the iThingy app? Apple? I'm thinking not by your existing comments. Don't you think Amazon et al are doing you a favour by JUST removing the links to their stores rather than charging ~43% extra (which is exactly what I think they should be doing)? Or would you rather they pulled out altogether and left you without your books?

          What if all methods of distribution (other than direct website sales) wanted a 30% cut? Do you think that's sustainable? It isn't, it would push the sale of ebooks to a niche market and that would put prices up considerably. Or do you think Apple are different? Just like those ignorant people who park in disabled parking spaces when they're just being lazy and use the lame argument that "it's just me". What if everyone parked in those spaces?

          Everyone that uses an iDevice and ebooks from the these sellers should count themselves LUCKY that all they have done is remove the link! Jeez, some people!

          1. Scott Mckenzie

            Thank You

            For the accusation of being a simpleton, something somewhat offensive considering you don't know me from adam!

            You seem to be missing the major point here, the end user is not the simpleton - the end user pays the same price, wherever they buy the product from. There is no extra charge to the end user. It's a business decision, do you, as a seller of a product, want to have exposure on the largest selling device out there? If so, then you have to accept there is a charge to be considered. You can sell on your site for whatever the hell you like, it's your infrastructure, your marketing, your budget.... but the choice is simple, be on an iOS device, or don't.

            As for Amazon etc charging an extra 43% - they can... and a number of people would buy the book as i've said elsewhere. The people who don't trawl the web looking to save £2 on a book. It's their decision, be on the iOS device or don't - do you see my point yet?

            Were you this animated when Amazon, BOL etc started selling books on the internet? It was so unfair to my local book store that had been there since the 80's, they didn't have the huge buying power of Amazon and as a result, SHOCK, their books cost more... the pricing model was carefully worked out so they could pay the rent, their staff, some coffee in the staff room - it's not like they knew this internet thing was coming. It is however very easy to get a book, i walk into the store and pay for it. If i wanted to spend the time trawling the web, I could, i may even find the same book for less, including a service charge called delivery - it's not quite as easy though as i have to search, login, remember a password, add my new credit card details, update my delivery address.... it's cheaper though.

            You take you choice you pay your money.

            1. nsld


              The key issue with this is that there are other delivery channels and the mistake apple has made is assuming its brand is more important than any other.

              So apple has told content providers that previously developed apps at there own expense to populate apples ecosystem that they now need to pay 30% of the gross cost to apple to continue serving apples customers.

              Apple needed the apps to build the ecosystem, now they are biting the hand that fed that ecosystem and those app providers are diminishing the app experience for apple customers.

              You as an Apple customer may want a simple experience but its upto the supplier if it wants to pay the itax and give you that experience, it was apples decision to block access to you the customer with its onerous charging.

              I am sure the providers have looked at the model and either see that the number of app purchases was low (in or out of app) and that its not worth adding the itunes "experience" when they know that if you want a cheap amazon book you will get it from another source and still read it on your phone.

  15. Bernard

    I don't see how this is 'bowing' to anything either

    In a hypothetical situation where the government raised taxes to 80% and a stream of high earners left the country or found tax loopholes, I don't think the headline would be that those emigrants were 'bowing to tax increases'.

    1. John Bailey

      It isn't.

      But Arguing with a fanboy is like arguing with a Scientologist.

  16. fuego

    Never ceases to amaze me ...

    ... just how vitriolic people on here can be about a brand of telephone.

    Do the same ranty fuckers accost people in the street who're carrying Tesco bags because they themselves shop at Asda?

    Honestly, if a product doesn't appeal to you for whatever reason, don't let it eat you up with rage - just don't buy it. End of discussion.

    1. fuego

      Not surprised

      Downvoted into oblivion by people apparently eaten up with rage about a tech company.

      FFS, get some perspective, people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never ceases to amaze me ...

      I'm confused. Are you comparing the iPhone to a Tesco carrier bag or to an Asda carrier bag?

  17. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    what is it aboul elReg and titles????

    I think this is one of the reasons that android will become more a popular platform for phones and fondle pads, developers/companies will be able to create the applications they want and that fulfil users' needs and are not subject to reichsmarschall jobs whims.

  18. Tringle

    Hell will freeze over

    . . before I would buy an Apple product.

    fuego - the analogy would be that Tesco wouldn't let you into their shop if you were carrying an Asda bag.

    Apple are just pure evil. I can live with this knowledge and easily live without any of their limited function overpriced fashion accessories.

    1. fuego


      for proving my point exactly.

      Evil, for God's sake? Compared to who? Which tech company are you using for comparison?

      Please do share with us the name of this shining paragon of corporate selflessness.

    2. Scott Mckenzie


      Err not really... more like that Tesco wouldn't let Asda set up a department within their store and sell the same products for less. People are perfectly welcome to go to Asda and possibly pay less for the same product, but if you're already in Tesco and you can buy from the Tesco store or the (slightly bizarre) Asda department that is round the back, through some doors, where you need to sign in and pay separately - which would you do????

      But a reasoned argument is pointless as you appear to be somewhat anti Apple, for some reason.

      1. David Evans


        Actually, now that Apple have dropped the anti-competitive price matching restriction, I have no problem with Apple demanding a cut. And I also have no problem with Amazon et al, saying "30%? No chance". (FYI no way are Amazon or B&N making 30% average margin on ebooks). But that's a perfectly reasonable business decision. Apple will eventually make the choice between revenue and the strategic content integration play; If iBooks doesn't take up the shortfall from Amazon and Nook (and I strongly suspect it won't), then Apple will quietly go back to Amazon and B&N and negotiate a bespoke commission deal (at probably closer to 5-10% affiliate rates rather than 30%), which is what grown-up businesses used to do before the likes of Apple (and Google and Facebook) decided take it or leave it models were a better business strategy. Apple thought it could bully Amazon based on its ereader market share on the iPad, and they've found that Amazon have as much clout, if not more, than they do.

        This whole farce is a bigger problem for the likes of Spotify and Rdio etc. who also don't have 30 points to give away, but don't have Amazon's deep pockets or alternate channels; unfortunately Spotify really need iPhone distribution to make their model stack up.

  19. MooseMonkey


    .... don't upgrade your kindle app, mine still has the button in it, so I'm not going to upgrade it.

    Better solution - buy a kindle, they are excellent at what they are designed to do..

    nuf said

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I've already said no to Apple, and it's looking like No to android too...

    Which means I'll be sticking with me winmob phone, ta very much.

    Look up the phrase "restrictive trading practices" if in any doubt as to why I've taken this line.

    1. jai


      i looked up the phrase "cutting your nose off to spite your face"...

  21. rpawsey


    As Apple have backed down on the edict to price fix why don't these companies just explicitly add a 42.8% Apple Tax (This is how much they would have to add to get the same ammount after 30% is taken by Apple) to their prices? People are given the whole picture & can decide if they are happy to pay for the 'ease of use'

    1. Scott Mckenzie


      They can if they want to, no-one is stopping them doing so - many people probably wouldn't look elsewhere and see they can get it for less so they'd be quids in as a company.

      It's a business decision probably best left to the people making the business decisions for the likes of Amazin, B&N etc, who, let's face it, know a shed load more about this than a bunch of us on a forum.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it really is an easy ...

    ... concept to grasp.

    If one wishes to buy from Apple or even support one's children to purchase things from Apple using their App Store then Apple will go out of their way to make sure the application has not been compromised (remember that FTP app not on App Store but had hackers code injected into it?) nor will your children be exposed to adult content.

    There - it is easy after all and Apple do not say you cannot buy stuff any other way but if you do wish to use their App Store the above is part of Apple's purchasing experience (or so it seems).

    1. David Evans

      I really can't believe you went there.

      Apple are doing it to protect the kiddies? Really? Reaaalllllyy? Not for the 30% revenue take, oh no, no sirree Bob, its for the kids, because y'know, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are big-time porn merchants, everyone knows that.

  23. Rab Sssss

    why not just put the 30%

    on the price via itunes with a FAQ that states "your extra 30% is due to apple being a bunch of money grasping control freak wankers, to avoid apple tax don't use itunes"...

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Rinse and repeat

    @zen1, sure it's out of hand. But Jobs has been a control freak since the 1980s.

    It's just a cycle.

    1) Buy Apple product.

    2) "Jeez, these restrictions are ridiculous, somebody should do something about it."

    3) Normal people (including some Apple users) point out it's just Apple, there's numerous other vendors on the market, nobody has to "do something" about it because Apple is not a monopoly. The fanbois use circular fanboi-logic to either claim restrictions are a good thing, or even better to claim the restrictions are not restrictions.

    4) Person may break out of the cycle, either swearing off Apples, or coming to terms with them being an appliance that must be used "Jobs' way". If not, GOTO 1, rinse and repeat.

  25. jai


    if the WSJ were really that concerned about their end user experience, they should put the effort in to add all the account management features of the website (and really, how many of those can there be?) to their iApp. And it shouldn't be too difficult to work out how to sync the content and which articles people have read across the devices as well. It just requires a bit of effort on their part to write an app that does more than just stream articles from their site.

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