Apple shows how to undermine its ecosystem for content apps

Earlier I wrote about how I thought it was a mistake for News Corp to invest so lavishly in The Daily, the first-ever iPad-only newspaper.

This morning, as I listened to the streaming audio of Rupert Murdoch’s official unveiling of this publication, I saw a headline that made me think Murdoch — and any content publisher or retailer — should be especially wary about depending too heavily for revenue delivered via iPhone or iPad apps. It was: Apple blocks Sony e-book app. Is Kindle next?

In a nutshell, Apple recently rejected Sony’s new e-reader app from its app store because it jumped users out of the app and into the browser to buy new e-books. This strategy skirts Apple’s considerable 30% cut of all in-app purchases, and it’s how Amazon has handled e-book sales for its popular Kindle iPhone and iPad apps since the beginning.

I did some research this, and it looks like Apple is sending some potentially destructive messages to the iOS app ecosystem they’ve worked so hard to create. So I wrote about this today in my CNN Tech mobile blog…

See: Should The Daily worry about a possible Apple bait-and-switch?

Also, on the Knight Digital Media Center’s News Leadership 3.0 blog, I explored more specifically why news organizations should consider this a big red flag. This Apple move indicates that any news orgs which focuses too heavily on iPhone/iPad apps as a cornerstone of its mobile strategy could find its revenue potential suddenly curtailed if Apple decides to change its rules — and they’ve demonstrated a willingness to do exactly that.

See: Got an iPhone/iPad app? Don’t count on browser-jumping for extra revenue

News orgs are hungry for new revenue options beyond ads and subscriptions. As e-readers grow more popular, one big option is repackaging news content into e-books. So I discussed the quandary presented by projects such as the e-book Open Secrets, recently published by the New York Times.

Bottom line: This is yet another reason why I’m glad I bought an Android phone — and why, when I get a tablet, it won’t be an iPad. This behavior by Apple hurts content consumers as well as app producers.

You’ve gotta wonder: Does anyone over at Apple still remember that 1984 commercial?

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