Apple to Overhaul App Store Policies


The various applications or “apps” available on the Apple iPhone and the recent iPad have played a major role in the popularity of these devices. On its part, Apple has always allowed third party developers to develop apps and distribute them via Apple’s online app store. This is set to change even as Apple takes extra measures to regulate its app store.

A number of app developers including Sony have been asked by Apple to discontinue selling e-books via their apps unless the sale is routed through Apple’s gateway. Apple’s new app policy has already claimed its first victim – Sony’s iPhone app which would have allowed users to browse and purchase e-books from the Sony Reader Store.

In a statement made on Tuesday, Apple said that users could still access e-books purchased previously via third party applications but all forthcoming in-app transactions would have to be routed through Apple.

Third party applications like Sony’s recently rejected iPhone app and the Kindle app from Amazon work by opening a new browser page outside the application which is then used by customers to shop at the respective websites. This allows the app developers to claim that the transaction occurred on the internet and not via the app, thereby making it unnecessary for them to pay Apple any commission or royalty for the sale.

Expectedly, Apple now insists that any such transaction must happen within the app and Apple must get a 30% commission from the sale. This rule currently applies only to e-books but is expected to cover other goods and services in the near future.

Further clarifying Apple’s position, Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, said that, “We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines, we are 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.”

Apple’s latest move suggests that the company wants to create a new revenue stream by taking advantage of the popular Apple platform. According to James L. McQuivey, a consumer electronics analyst at Forrester Research, “This sudden shift perhaps tells you something about Apple’s understanding of the value of its platform, Apple started making money with devices. Maybe the new thing that everyone recognizes is the unit of economic value is the platform, not the device.”

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