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Apple just made "Read Only" apps official

You might recall that about a month ago I reported on a loophole in one of Apple’s rules for iTunes.

The rule was that reading apps like the Kindle had to sell content inside the app if they sold it outside the app. The loophole I discovered required reading apps to remove links to any external ebookstore. If they did this, Apple would let the app into iTunes. (I could prove this loophole existed a month ago because used it back in March.)

Apple set a deadline of 30 June for the exiting readign apps to comply with their rule. There’s barely 2 weeks left before that deadline, and today Apple made that loophole an official rule. MacRumors have a copy of the new iTunes developer rules. There’s a new section that covers this specifically:

11.14 Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app.

That’s how all the reading apps will be able to stay.

I don’t know about you, but I’m surprised. Apple basically caved on this issue. It was the smart move, but not the one I was expecting. Apple have a reputation for being arrogant, so I really didn’t expect any kind of compromise. I thought we’d see a bunch of the major ebookstores switching over to HTML5 apps, after which they would thumb their noses at Apple.

This compromise actually works better for me, the customer. HTML5 is great in theroy, but the tech isn’t nearly as well developed as some would like to pretend. Plus, developing a new app from scratch takes more time, effort, and money than simply modifying an existing app.

P.S. One interesting side effect of this 6 month long kerfuffle is the change in the iOS developer community. I don’t think a majority hate Apple, but I suspect a significant number are afraid that Apple might do  something just as stupid as this in-app purchase rule.

(Thanks, Krystian!)

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Mike Cane June 9, 2011 um 9:12 am

It came too late for iFlowreader!

So now people will create a bookmark to their bookstore — Amazon, Kobo, whatev — buy, then exit and go to the app and do Sync Library. Eh.

Krystian Galaj June 9, 2011 um 9:50 am

🙂 Perhaps this threat by Apple was calculated to shift the responsibility of figuring out the working model to all the companies threatened, they did all the brainstorming they could, and 2 weeks before the deadline Steve Jobs revisited the issue, got summaries of all their moves and decided on a course of action, having lost no more than a few hours on it. I expect he hates wasting time.

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