The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


The Apple ebook apocalypse draws nigh

I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Internet smarty Rex Hammock reports that one of the smaller electronic book vendors on Apple's iOS is shutting down due to Apple's draconian sales policies. The loss of iFlow means the demise of a highly innovative ebook reader app, though one  with only a small audience.

iFlow explained that Apple's rules, announced back in February, require that it give Apple 30% of every sale of an ebook made via its iPhone, iPad or iPod touch app. But under the so-called agency pricing model, imposed by Apple and the six largest publishers, ebook sellers have to give publishers 70% of their sales. Net left for iFlow? Zero. This move by Apple to hurt its users follows a similar move to block Sony from offering an ereader app compatible with Sony's ebook store.

But what is the next shoe? Is Apple going to give the much more broadly used Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble reader apps the boot next? And what about other digital content vendors like Netflix, Hulu and Rhapsody? The loss of each would be a big loss of choice and innovation and hurt Apple's loyal customers. The rumor mill says the apocalypse will hit June 30.

Apple fans like John Gruber and Ben Brooks have argued that Apple might, maybe work out a deal with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others so there's no reason to complain. But no one outside Apple knows for sure what the company will do next. Given Apple's public track record in this area, the best advice for ordinary users is exactly the opposite. Complain, blog, tweet, kick up a fuss. Generate some pressure.

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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Comments (9) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Anyone developing anything more taxing for the iOs now than a fart app needs their damn head examined.

    • This is the most vacuous comment I have read in my entire life.

      • I’m guessing that is, perhaps, because you don’t seem to know what the definition of vacuous is.

  2. Eh, don’t worry. Apple always makes new policies very strict and heavy-handed, then they scale it back as they figure out what works best. This will be a non-issue by next year. Calm the rabble-ing. Back to work. Nothing to see here. Life goes on.

    • That doesn’t help iFlow much.

      • I’m not sure anything would have helped iFlow. Let’s suppose your business model was selling iPod-like program for iOS that played tunes sold through your iTunes-like store at a 30% margin. In what universe do you think that would fly?

        • I think you’re neglecting the fact that it’s clear Apple intended to screw iFlow… which is fine and legal, but it says something about this beloved company.

          Also, what incentive do developers have to create iOS apps if there’s potential that Apples going to market a competing app?

        • It flew for a year and a half…

  3. I’m sticking with Steve Jobs. So far what he’s said has turned out for the best.