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Macintosh and iPhone software development

Apple and In-app Content Sales

@gruber asked,

Why are so many people surprised that Apple wants 30 percent of all money generated by iOS apps?

I’m not as shocked at that as the applicability to the media reading apps.

Apple’s position makes at least some sense to me in an application that is, on the iPad, Glossy National Magazine. Having an in-app subscription method makes some kind of sense, can protect the consumer, and may ultimately drive more business to the publisher. And in this case, the user is dealing with a publisher.

What bothers me is that the In-App purchase and 30% cut may apply to apps like the Kindle reader. This is an app that really just gives me access to a media library I populated, often those purchases being made outside of an Apple product. Amazon’s not a publisher, but a retailer/distributor.

The difference is in the verb. Some apps are the magazine/newspaper, and some apps just read media. Perhaps the line could reasonably be drawn there.

And it really raises a lot of questions:

Is Apple ready to handle an app that has 600,000 items available for purchase?

Do books sold through IAP have to follow Apple content guidelines? If not every book is available in IAP, does that violate the guidelines?

Is 30% appropriate in situations where Apple has done little but collect the money?

What about other media-reading apps like Stanza? I can buy any number of ePub books unencumbered by DRM and put them on my iPad. What’s the difference between using a web browser and iTunes to put a book in my iPad, and Amazon just downloading a book? Is it the DRM?

It concerns me because I love my iPad, the freedom it gives me, and the wide variety of media it plays. It’s my portable TV, my book, my magazine, my music player, and my surfboard for the ‘net. It would be disappointing to have the utility of the tablet diminished for me because some players would have to leave the market.

The rest of the story will probably play out by June 30, the date Apple has reportedly set for compliance.