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Wall Street Journal and Kobo Pull Direct Content Sales From iOS Apps [Updated]

The Wall Street Journal reports that it will be removing subscription links from its iPad application, deciding to satisfy Apple's new in-app purchasing and subscription rules by removing the purchase links rather than offering subscriptions through the app with Apple taking a 30% cut.
People who download the app and want to subscribe will have to either call customer service or visit WSJ.com.

"We remain concerned that Apple's own subscription [rules] would create a poor experience for our readers, who would not be able to directly manage their WSJ account or to easily access our content across multiple platforms," a Journal spokeswoman said.
The report also notes that Kobo, the eBook company that has risen to prominence through its affiliation with the now-bankrupt Borders, has pulled direct book sales from within its iOS application.
Mike Serbinis, Kobo's chief executive, said Apple told Kobo Saturday that it could no longer operate its digital bookstore from its Kobo apps and had to stop selling e-books directly through them. Kobo subsequently altered the apps so that they no longer sell digital titles.

Now Kobo customers who want to buy digital books via their Apple devices will have to visit www.kobo.com via Apple's Safari browser to make their purchases, a potentially more laborious process for customers used to buying e-books directly through a Kobo app. Customers will continue to be able to access and read Kobo-purchased books from their library on various Apple devices.
Google's Google Books app for iOS has also disappeared from the App Store, although Google has declined to comment on the reason for the app's removal.


Apple had set a deadline of June 30th for apps to comply with the new rules, but has reportedly been lenient about enforcement as it continues to work with high-profile developers on making their apps compliant. But with the Wall Street Journal, Kobo, and potentially Google's eBooks service all pulling direct content sales from within their apps, it certainly appears that not all of the holdouts are working toward addressing the issue by supporting in-app subscriptions and purchases.

Update: Google Books has returned to the App Store with the link to the company's bookstore removed, although the app's description mentions only "minor enhancements and bug fixes" among the changes included in the update.

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago
It's a completely dickish move and anyone who approves of Apple of doing this is completely blind and biased.
Rating: 13 Votes
39 months ago
No surprise, a struggling industry can't afford to give up 30% of it's revenue to apple just for the pleasure of being an iOS app.
Rating: 10 Votes
39 months ago
What an unnecessary inconvenience Apple. Pure greed. You are forcing startups who rely on a free app and in-app purchases to go the web-app way.
Rating: 8 Votes
39 months ago
Good news! I hope more big names follow suit!
Rating: 6 Votes
39 months ago
I actually hope Apple comes out last in the mobile arena at the end of the day, just like what happened with Mac OS. They think they can run the world, and have everyone feed off the palm of their hand, and smack them if they try to take too much. Tell me really, how is taking 30% revenue from in-app transactions justifying the costs involved for that one purchase a user is making through an app? Unbelievably greedy.
Rating: 5 Votes
39 months ago
Hopefully Apple will adjust it's 30% cut because of this. I have always thought this was a little steep.
Rating: 4 Votes
39 months ago

Translation: Even though Apple provides an excellent experience for our readers, it provides a lousy experience for the WSJ since we don't get access to our reader's personal data which we can then sell for lots of money.


Don't you think it's more likely that the information will be used to determine the direction of the bookstore? For instance, as a seller I would like to know which kinds of books sell best. Or how much a customer is willing to pay for a book. There are all kinds of metrics that a retailer needs to steer on when running a store. This is important data for the store itself, I'm sure it isn't going to sell this valuable information to a competitor.
Rating: 3 Votes
39 months ago
This whole thing is bad for customers. Because of that, I don't see this being good for Apple. I'm already displeased with Apple because of this.

Subscriptions are not the same as other items. Subscription pretty much always means a reduced rate for a long term agreement, paid in advance.

Therefore, the 30% cut that might be reasonable at per issue pricing, is not reasonable for a subscription. Apple needs to get something for providing the store, but 30% when it comes to subscriptions is too high - they should look at something closer to 15%.
Rating: 3 Votes
39 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't most retailers charge both a shelf-space fee (cost of the store carrying it) and a per-sale fee (cost of processing the transaction)? It still seems like what Apple's doing is standard fare.


Maybe they do and maybe it is. I wouldn't claim to be massively informed about retail practices but it annoys me when people try to forget apps and Apple are symbiotic and play one side or the other as a freeloader. Apple have the upper hand but they shouldn't abuse the position or they will end up regretting it.
Rating: 3 Votes
39 months ago

No word on Kindle?

That will be the real litmus test. So far Amazon has not blinked yet.
Rating: 3 Votes

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