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.


3 Replies to “So, Apple deserves a 30% slice of all content you buy?”

  1. 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:


  2. 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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