Apple E-Book Price Fixing Decision Could See Return of Direct Links from Kindle and Other Apps to Their Stores

kindle_app_store_linkThe U.S. Department of Justice today announced its proposed remedy in the e-book price fixing case that saw Apple found guilty last month. The proposed remedy includes nullification of Apple's existing "agency model" deals with a number of major publishers, as well as a requirement that competitors such as Amazon allow direct links to their own e-book stores from within their iOS apps.

The department’s proposal, if approved by the court, will require Apple to terminate its existing agreements with the five major publishers with which it conspired – Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc. – and to refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price. [...] To reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy, Apple must also for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple’s prices with those of its competitors.

Back in February 2011, Apple rolled out in-app subscriptions, also instituting a new App Store rule preventing developers offering both subscription and purchased content from including in their apps direct links to their own stores that would allow user to bypass Apple's in-app purchase system. Amazon complied with the requirement by removing links from its Kindle app in July of that year, and Barnes & Noble made a similar move with its NOOK app.

Under the proposed remedy, Apple would be required to allow those direct links to return to competitors' apps for a period of two years. A hearing on the proposed remedies is scheduled for August 9.

Top Rated Comments

benpatient Avatar
104 months ago
Insane. That's like having a link to iBooks in every Amazon app.

No way this will happen. It breaks the ecosystem. Apple will never permit this.

Apple was found guilty of "facilitating a conspiracy" to fix prices in the ebook market in a federal district court.

They don't have a say in the matter. They chose to go to court rather than settle. They lost. They are now bound to whatever resolution the court deems to be acceptable (pending appeal, of course).

Your analogy is completely foolish and wrong, by the way. This is the equivalent of Apple launching an Android app for iBooks, and Amazon then forcing Apple to give Amazon a 30% cut of every iBooks sale on the Android iBooks app, and requiring anyone else who sells iBooks (like Apple themselves) to offer the same high price on every product, and then Amazon conspiring with all of the book publishers to raise prices and force that model onto Apple's store, and then sitting on that business model in bad faith for 2 years until forced by a court to relent and allow Apple to sell ebooks via their iBooks Android app for whatever price they want, and from within the app, and without paying Amazon 30% of every sale. That's the analogy you were looking for. And it shows just how absurdly defensive Apple apologists can be.

Amazon is "winning" right now because they have built up such an incredible infrastructure for real, physical books (and practically everything else) that people go to them like they go to wal-mart. Wal-mart has terrible prices sometimes for certain things (like cheese or milk, for example), but the people who shop there don't know that, because they don't shop anywhere else. Amazon has a lot going for it:Prime shipping (no competition), Prime video (better than netflix in a lot of ways), subscribe & save (no real competition), the Kindle (best ereader family), S3 services (best price/performance in the industry), the Marketplace (taking a huge bite out of ebay, et al). What they aren't doing is using anticompetitive practices to actively hinder the business efforts of their rivals in those markets. Apple and the publishers were doing exactly that.

If the walled garden philosophy works, then Apple's iBooks store should be able to compete with the Kindle store on iOS without stacking the deck. If you want to pay a 30% commission to Apple for every purchase, then that's your right. It's not Apple's right to dictate pricing for other companies on their own website, which is what the current policy effectively does.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gaspode67 Avatar
104 months ago
This would be terrible. I don't want to enter my CC info for every app that has IAP. I think having a unified payment method through the App Store adds significantly to the user experience.

I doubt you would have to. Take the Kindle App for example. At the moment, if you install the Kindle App, then it's already tied to your Amazon account. All you would need to do is allow a link through to the store. After all, that's how it already works if you have, say, a Kindle Paperwhite or the Kindle App installed on your Android phone. You don't have to enter in your CC details, as they are already linked to your Amazon account.

And I have yet to hear any clear and logical reason why Apple would "deserve" a cut of any book purchased through the Kindle App. What service has Apple provided at any stage of that transaction? Have they provided the ebook? No. Have they processed the transaction on behalf of Amazon? No. Have they provided the network infrastructure for the transfer of the file? No.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gaspode67 Avatar
104 months ago

And if the Kindle link is clicked, have iOS give this warning message:
WARNING: Books purchased through this method will not be stored in the Apple Cloud, thus could be lost.

Because you can only download a book once from Amazon to one device. Oh wait....


Apple cannot guarantee that your credit card information will not be stolen using a 3rd party link. Use at your own risk.

A simple WARNING message is not beyond what the Judge said, and will deter a lot of people from using the Kindle link.

As I pointed out above, on other mobile platforms with the Kindle App, you don't enter your CC information for the purchase, Just your Amazon Account and Password, so it's no different to using your AppleID to purchase music from the iTunes store.

Just reject the apps. Why should Apple be forced to offer free infrastructure to Amazon so that Amazon can further the reach of their own store?

What infrastructure has Apple supplied here above and beyond allowing Amazon to sell their App? Apple's systems and servers would not be used to process the transaction or transfer the file.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
err404 Avatar
104 months ago
This would be terrible. I don't want to enter my CC info for every app that has IAP. I think having a unified payment method through the App Store adds significantly to the user experience.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ck2875 Avatar
104 months ago
Simple Fix to Piss off the Judge: Reject the Kindle App for Some Other Issue.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
benpatient Avatar
104 months ago
Because Apple doesn't spend any money lobbying or massaging politicians testicles. Amazon does. Thats how things work in this country unfortunately. They see Apples massive pile of money, and then they see how little Apple spends on political garbage, and it makes Apple a huge target

LOL. RIIIIIIIGHT.

Apple doesn't spend any money lobbying! (http://www.cultofmac.com/228693/apple-will-double-its-lobbying-efforts-this-year-to-simplify-u-s-tax-code/)
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...