Emails Reveal Why Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller Blocked In-App Purchase of Kindle Books

Internal Apple emails, made public by the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust inquiry, have revealed information about why Apple blocked in-app purchases of Kindle books on iOS devices, reports The Verge.

amazon apple 1

Two sets of emails between Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and various other senior Apple executives, disclose the exact thinking behind how Apple approached Kindle on iOS. The current precedent was outlined by Steve Jobs, who stated that "I think this is all pretty simple — iBooks is going to be the only bookstore on iOS devices. We need to hold our heads high. One can read books bought elsewhere, just not buy/rent/subscribe from iOS without paying us, which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things."

Originally, Kindle books were available for purchase via the iOS app. Since 2011, the Kindle iOS app has only allowed users to read books in the app. Purchase of new titles can only be made in Safari, not in the app itself. This allows Amazon to avoid a 30% Apple surcharge on in-app purchases.

‌Phil Schiller‌ expressed concern in one of the emails that Amazon was advertising the fact that users could still access Kindle books purchased on iOS on Android devices, suggesting it was convenient to switch from iOS to Android.

amazon apple 5

Schiller explained that Apple initially made an exception for Amazon, because "users would be buying books on a Kindle device and later accessing them on iPhone." Over time, as sales of iOS devices rose dramatically, Schiller believed that it was time to reconsider the exception. Amazon's TV advertising was a clear point of contention for Apple and prompted the change of attitude.

amazon apple 3

These discussions took place as Apple was planning to announce revised App Store policies for subscriptions. Jobs suggested in his response that Amazon "must use our payment system for everything," and justify this with the new subscription policies. "If they want to compare us to Android, let's force them to use our far superior payment system," Jobs wrote.

amazon apple 2

Amazon later removed a link to the Kindle Store in the iOS app to comply with the new App Store subscription rules. From then onwards, the Kindle app's storefront feature was removed entirely, with no overt direction as to where to buy books.

amazon apple 4

Yesterday, further emails published by the U.S. antitrust subcommittee revealed that Apple offered Amazon lower ‌App Store‌ fees to convince it to launch its Prime Video app on the ‌‌App Store‌‌ and Apple TV.

The news that Apple made exceptions for Amazon for Kindle prior to 2011 and for Prime Video has caused confusion among some observers, as Apple has consistently claimed it treats every developer the same. ‌Phil Schiller‌ stated ahead of the antitrust inquiry this week that all apps in the ‌App Store‌ have been treated "the same - one set of rules for everybody, no special deals, no special terms, no special code, everything applies to all developers the same."

Top Rated Comments

WiiDSmoker Avatar
47 months ago
remember folks, steve jobs and apple aren't your friends
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BGPL Avatar
47 months ago
Apple - sticking it to their customers since 1977. And then blatantly lying about it. Repeatedly.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
47 months ago
As with every company, there is the Public face and the Private face. None of this is really any surprise to anyone, is it?
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Baymowe335 Avatar
47 months ago
Welcome to business guys.

This is very tame compared to what really goes on in business every day.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FSMBP Avatar
47 months ago
My favorite is Phil's "Not fun to watch" in regards to switching devices. It's like if you're making a superior device (which I believe they do), why would this bruise your ego?

It's like they are focused on making it hard for people to leave the ecosystem on purpose.

Just make awesome products, and people will flock to your product.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
carlsson Avatar
47 months ago
I would like to see how all the nay-sayers at the forums the last days would run a business...

It's very easy to have opinions, it's another to build a company.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees ...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
Google maps feaure

Google Maps Finally Rolls Out Glanceable Directions

Wednesday February 28, 2024 2:07 am PST by
After more than a year since announcing the feature, Google Maps is finally rolling out glanceable directions on Android and iOS (via Android Police). The feature allows users to view turn-by-turn directions and a live ETA directly from their device's lock screen – information that was previously only visible when a phone was unlocked. Glanceable directions also work on the app's route...
iPad Air 5

iPadOS 18 Rumored to Drop Support for These iPad Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:55 am PST by
iPadOS 18 will drop support for iPad models equipped with the A10X Fusion chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS and iPadOS updates. This means that iPadOS 18 would not be compatible with the first-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro or the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro models released in 2017. It...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...
M3 MacBook Air Feature

New MacBook Air Models Launching This March: 5 Features to Expect

Wednesday February 28, 2024 1:50 am PST by
The existing 15-inch MacBook Air arrived in June 2023, which is not that long ago in terms of Mac update cycles. However, Apple released the current 13-inch ‌MacBook Air back in June 2022. It is now the oldest Mac in Apple's current crop, having not been updated in 600 days. But rumors suggest that is unlikely to be the case for much longer. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has...