So, Apple deserves a 30% slice of all content you buy?


I was having a discussion this week with an old colleague regarding Apple’s content purchasing policies, and about the crippling of the Kindle, Nook and Google Books apps, as described here.

I was told I was a “Windows Snob”, and that “You and Fortune are criticizing a company for not wanting to send customers to their competitors site in a capitalist society?”

On the one hand, I agree. In a free, capitalist society, Apple has the right to do any damn thing it wants on its platform, to its partners, and to its customers – in the interest of scraping in even more profits.

However, that does not make their actions admirable, or in the best interests of their customers. And it does not mean that consumers should blindly accept this behaviour (though most users of Apple users have drunk so much of the kool-aid that they can no longer even think of life without their Apple products).

The basic premise being argued here is this: does owner/developer/vendor of a platform have the right to only allow you to buy content through them, and the right to a slice of all revenues for content on that platform?

Lets look at a couple of analogies, first to desktop computers, and second to browsers.

Lets think first about computer OS vendors. Would it be acceptable for a computer vendor (Apple or Microsoft) to not let you buy anything on any web site on your computer without giving them a 30% slice? Say Microsoft (always seen as the greedy capitalist in the crowd) tried to make this happen in Windows. How long would it be before consumer groups and the DoJ cried foul, fined them, and made them change the practice?

Lets think now about browsers now. Would it be ok for your web browser to ONLY go to web sites the were registered with and “approved of” by the browser vendor? Or for every e-commerce transaction in your browser to belong to the vendor, and give that vendor a 30% slice? I am pretty sure most users would complain about this.

The fact is, Apple’s policies in this area are flat-out wrong, and are anti-competitive. Any other company would not be allowed to get away with limiting choice the way Apple does, but Apple has much of the world so completely brainwashed with marketing hype that no one even questions them anymore.

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About

I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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Posted in Capitalism, Competition, Rant
3 comments on “So, Apple deserves a 30% slice of all content you buy?
  1. ninaseer says:

    I really don’t think the impact has been felt yet. Unless you specifically followed the story, you wouldn’t really understand unless you updated the app and then went to buy a book from within the app in the last week. I know Kindle, Nook and Kobo sent out email notices, but we’re always getting stuff from them and frankly I filter that out.

    When I went looking in forums and blogs about a week ago, yours was nearly the only one. Now there are all sorts of complaints and rants. Unfortunately unless all these complaints hit the media and shame Apple publicly, I don’t think the impact will be felt collectively.

    Apple never bothered to reply to my complaint, despite the fact that I’ve purchased 8 pieces of equipment from them and carry Applecare on half of them.

    Here’s an interesting article:
    http://kindlenationdaily.com/2011/07/in-the-battle-over-ebook-apps-on-the-ipad-apple-says-my-way-or-the-highway-kindle-replies-whatever-dude/

  2. ninaseer says:

    I don’t know why there isn’t more backlash against Apple. Kindle app ratings have dropped to 2 1/2 stars this week because of all the user complaints. Effectively this means that any android or blackberry user now has a more functional experience using their devices to read than I do on my iPad. Part of the attraction for the devices was the appstore and the jillions of apps! Crippling them for the sake of competition is unbelievable. Apple is willing to reduce functionality for an astouncing number of their own customers…and we’re barely gong to wimper? Why aren’t iOS users leaving Apple a barrage of complaints? Whats worse, is I wanted to like iBooks, but it has remained too weak a contender.

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Please keep in mind that any opinions, points-of-view, comments, or other content which I post to this site are mine and mine alone. They in no way reflect the views of my employer, my country, my dog, my cat, or anyone else you can think of. To paraphrase Monty Python, "That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is, too."

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