walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Apple Blinks

Back in February, Apple announced some new rules for the App Store. As of the end of June, apps would no longer be allowed to have a Buy button within an app that went out of the app to the web browser to Buy something. Purchases had to go through the App Store, giving Apple 30% of the cut. The price on the items had to be no higher than the price on the same items bought through a website. And _anything_ that you could buy elsewhere for consumption in-app had to be available for purchase in app.

When these rules were set, there was a flurry of tech coverage, and, a little while later, when a company making an ereader decided these rules destroyed their business model, another smaller flurry when that company said that the new rules were to blame for them folding their business. R. was going to get me an iPhone for my birthday late in May, but I asked him to wait. A bunch of smartphones would allow me to read kindle books on my phone; I was not going to risk winding up with another one that might not.

Recently, Apple made a further change to the rules. Still: no button in app to go out of app to Buy something from a website. But in-app purchases can be priced however you like and the requirement to be able to purchase in-app is also gone.

The rules as they were constituted enough of a problem for everything from Netflix to Amazon to you-name-a-magazine-or-newspaper-or-media-company that I perceived the rules as a risk to purchasing an iPhone. The change in the rules looks like enough of a solution that I no longer perceive a risk. That's just me, however. A lot of the coverage of the rules-change points to the Financial Times putting out an HTML5 app. That might not sound like a very big deal, but the Financial Times has been able to collect money for its web version for quite a while now, and an HTML5 app would work just as well on a Droid as it would on an Apple product (and probably on anything else, for that matter). If FT puts out an app that works everywhere and puts it completely beyond the reach of Apple, that's a direct threat to the walled garden approach (Apple isn't going to take the browser away, and they cannot very well say they don't like HTML5; not supporting Flash was bad enough). Apple cannot afford to have everyone suddenly deciding to develop HTML5 web apps instead of Apple-specific apps. So the coverage is probably right in associating these two events.

Probably right. There are alternative explanations, involving, among other things, a hypothetical Amazon tablet.


This is reasonable coverage:

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