Apple won't kill the Kindle app

Sony reader app
Sony's Reader app has been rejected - but is Apple really being evil here?

There's been an almighty brouhaha over the App Store today: Apple has rejected Sony's Reader app.

According to the NYT, that means Amazon's Kindle app is also under threat: "The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store."

I'll be amazed if that's true. Apple is many things, but it's not insane.

Let's look at the story in a bit more detail. The bit about Apple refusing to "let customers to have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store" isn't a quote from Sony. It isn't included in the Sony Reader blog's explanation either.

Since such a policy would make Apple look quite exceptionally evil, you'd think Sony might have mentioned it.

I think the NYT is right and wrong at the same time. When it says Sony users can't access content they've already bought, it's perfectly correct: if you can't have the app, you can't have any content that's delivered via that app.

Apple hasn't banned the content. It's rejected the app.

Don't stick a shop inside your app

Unless everybody at Apple has gone completely nuts, what's happening here is that Sony's app doesn't use Apple's system for in-app purchases; Apple has cried foul and told Sony to use the official API or stay out of the App Store.

Here's what Sony did tell the NYT: "Apple has changed the way it enforces its rules." The NYT adds: "Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple."

That isn't shock news, and it won't affect the Kindle app. It doesn't do in-app purchasing: you buy in your browser, and the books are then delivered to the app.

Here's my prediction. Sony will make its app work more like the Kindle one, it'll resubmit it, and Apple will approve it. Meanwhile, the Kindle app will carry on as it's always done. Can you imagine Apple making its iPod app block Amazon-bought MP3s, or its Videos app check with Hollywood to make sure you didn't get your films via Bittorrent?

Maybe I'm wrong and the NYT is right, but I really don't see it. iPad owners are big Kindle fans too, and blocking a Kindle app would be an enormous own goal. It wouldn't just be a PR disaster, either: it'd be a red rag to regulators, a shout of "and you thought Microsoft was bad in the 90s? Check THIS out!"

I'm not saying Apple is being saintly here. Publishers are furious about the change to its in-app purchasing rules because they think – correctly – that Apple wants a cut of every issue they sell via subscription, and the whole thing has been handled in typically secretive and unfriendly fashion.

But there's a big difference between Apple being Apple, and Apple being crazy.


Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.