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Apple’s App Store policy changes anger European publishers

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011
News Categories: Apple, Apps + Games

European publishing groups are set to meet later this month to discuss Apple’s recent policy changes for publishers, according to a mocoNews report. Following Apple’s recent move to reject the Sony Reader app and subsequent announcement that it is “now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase,” the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA)—which represents some 5,000 members in 80 countries—is holding a meeting with the European Online Publishers Association and the magazine association FIPP on February 17 in London to discuss Apple’s new rules. “The relationship between Apple and publishers has always been direct so its very difficult to find out what is happening elsewhere,” said Grzegorz Piechota, the European president of the INMA.

Many publishers who previously relied on web-based forms for handling subscriptions are confused with Apple’s stance. “Some say they feel betrayed,” Piechota said. “They believed that it would be a great way to access content from newspapers and magazines. So they hyped the iPad, and many of them invested in apps for it. By promoting these apps, they promoted the device. Publishers in fact helped to make the iPad successful on the market.” In explaining Apple’s inconsistencies when dealing with publishers, Piechota said, “Apple said yesterday that that in their policy with Sony Reader, they are not changing anything, just enforcing existing rules. But when they talk to publishers direct, they are saying something else. Apple has been contacting some publishers, and not contacting some. Some get emails, others get informal phone calls,” he said. “The whole process of accepting or rejecting apps is not transparent. It’s very hard to explain why some apps are being accepted and some are being refused; some apps allow you to read content that is bought somewhere else and others that won’t let you do this.” Noting that publishers in Belgium and France have taken the matter to authorities, Piechota said, “Legal action is the least wanted solution. It is slow and will damage the relationship between Apple and publishers. The first thing is a dialogue. As publishers we need to know what Apple is playing at.”

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Comments

1

Aren’t the application guidelines spelled out somewhere? I am very confused by the Apple’s statement because it reads like, “We haven’t changed any policies. Here’s how the policy has changed.” So is this policy of requiring an in-app purchase option clearly spelled out or isn’t it?

And it certainly does make for some interesting inconsistencies. Amazon could seemingly run afoul of this policy because they sell ebooks. Meanwhile several other ebook readers exist that should be fine simply because they don’t sell the content that they provide access to. I guess all Amazon needs to do is Open-Source the Kindle software and let someone else put it on the app store. Weird.

Posted by Rob E. on February 3, 2011 at 2:16 PM (PDT)

2

A good friend I talk with about these matters responded to this general topic by saying that Apple was trying to avoid anti-trust issues. When I said I was puzzled at his response because their actions seemed to be inviting such issues he said, “I assumed their intention was to lose customers” wink

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on February 3, 2011 at 4:17 PM (PDT)

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