That is such a stupid expression. If you have a cake, of course you want to eat it. What’s the point of having a cake if you don’t intend to eat it? You going to wear it or something? It’s like saying, “Oh you don’t just want a car, you want to drive it too!” Yeah, of course I do. That’s the fucking point of having a car.
But I digress. The NY Times is reporting that Apple has told Sony and some other developers that they can no longer sell ebooks through their iPhone/iPad apps unless those sale transactions go through Apple’s system. What this basically means is that Apple want their 30% cut of every ebook sold from the Sony Reader store through the Sony Reader app on any of their devices.
On the one hand you can understand why Apple want a slice of the pie when their platform is being used for commerce, but it’s actually taking the piss a bit. The whole concept behind the app phenomenon originally was that the more things you could do with an iPhone, the more likely people are to buy one. By making heaps of apps available, Apple would shift more hardware units. Hardware and accessories have always been Apple’s core business after all. This decision marks a distinct shift in Apple’s approach. To fully understand what they’re doing, click the NY Times link above and have a read. It’s a very clear article.
The downside to this for us is that it’s holding back the emergence of ebooks as mainstream story consumption. By adding complication and costs to the delivery of ebooks, it only makes things more expensive for the end purchaser and slows the all-products-on-all-devices world that we desire. For ebooks to work properly and for prices to settle to an acceptable norm, people need to be able to buy any book from any store and read it on any device.
For example, you can buy and read Kindle books from Amazon on your Kindle reader. You can also get them and read them with the Kindle app on the iPhone. This Sony situation heralds a possible hiccough in that process – will Kindle be the next thing that Apple throttles? Will Kindle books suddenly become more expensive on other platforms, or not available at all?
This is a bad precedent. The real strength of ebooks and the place where most money is to be made is homogeneity and blanket coverage. When people can read any book from any store on any device, loads more people will start to pick up the technology. Just the same as music and MP3s. It wasn’t until the MP3 format became standard that digital music players became ubiquitous.
More birth pains of the digital publishing industry. It’ll be interesting to keep any eye on this one and see what happens. What do you think? Would Apple restricting its ebook content like this affect your ebook purchases?
EDIT – Please see the comments below. Seems I was one of many to misinterpret the situation and there’s a link down there that makes it all a lot clearer. In this case Apple are being unfairly criticised.