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
44 months ago
remember folks, steve jobs and apple aren't your friends
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BGPL Avatar
44 months ago
Apple - sticking it to their customers since 1977. And then blatantly lying about it. Repeatedly.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeeW Avatar
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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

iOS 17

iOS 17.2 Will Add These 12 New Features to Your iPhone

Friday December 1, 2023 12:19 pm PST by
iOS 17.2 has been in beta testing for over a month, and it should be released to all users in a few more weeks. The software update includes many new features and changes for iPhones, including the dozen that we have highlighted below. iOS 17.2 is expected to be released to the public in mid-December. To learn about even more features coming in the update, check out our full list. Journal ...
iOS 16 4 Web Push

Apple Confirms Governments Using Push Notifications to Surveil Users

Wednesday December 6, 2023 5:06 am PST by
Unidentified governments are surveilling smartphone users by tracking push notifications that move through Google's and Apple's servers, a US senator warned on Wednesday (via Reuters). In a letter to the Department of Justice, Senator Ron Wyden said foreign officials were demanding the data from the tech giants to track smartphones. The traffic flowing from apps that send push notifications...
airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Firmware

Tuesday December 5, 2023 11:28 am PST by
Apple today released new firmware update for both the Lightning and USB-C versions of the AirPods Pro 2. The new firmware is version 6B34, up from the 6B32 firmware introduced in November. Apple does not provide details on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware beyond "bug fixes and other improvements," so it is unclear what's new in the update, but prior software releases ...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue

'All-Screen' iPhone Under-Display Camera Enters Development

Wednesday December 6, 2023 2:03 am PST by
Apple's Korean suppliers have begun developing smartphone under-display cameras (UDC), paving the way for the first iPhone with a true "all-screen" appearance. According to The Elec, LG Innotek has entered the preliminary development of the UDC, which sits under the display and does not result in a visible hole in the panel when the camera is not in use. A UDC differs from a typical front ...
magsafe blue 2

iOS 17.2 Brings Qi2 Support to iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 Models

Tuesday December 5, 2023 11:04 am PST by
The iOS 17.2 update that Apple is set to release to the public in the near future will bring support for the next-generation Qi2 wireless charging standard to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 models. Qi2 was mentioned in the release notes for the RC version of the update that came out today. With the addition of support for the new standard, iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 models will work with Qi2...
iphone se 4 modified flag edges

iPhone SE 4 May Reuse Existing iPhone 14 Battery

Wednesday December 6, 2023 1:17 pm PST by
Recently, MacRumors has received details on the battery currently being tested on the upcoming fourth-generation iPhone SE, and the information corroborates previous findings in relation to the device. The iPhone SE 4, known by its device identifier D59, is expected to use the exact same battery found in the base model iPhone 14. Partially assembled prototypes of the next iPhone SE have been ...
airpods pro bulbs

Black Friday Prices Return for AirPods Pro 2 With USB-C, iPad, and More

Tuesday December 5, 2023 7:30 am PST by
Today we're tracking a collection of deals that are matching - or nearly matching - the same all-time low discounts we saw during Black Friday. This includes the AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C, 9th generation iPad, and M1 MacBook Air. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the ...
instagram messenger

Instagram and Facebook Messenger Chats to Disconnect This Month

Tuesday December 5, 2023 1:57 am PST by
Meta has revealed plans to end Instagram users' ability to chat with Facebook accounts later this month, rolling back a feature that it introduced over three years ago. In September 2020, Meta (then Facebook) announced it was merging its Facebook Messenger service with Instagram direct messaging, allowing Instagram users to chat with Facebook users and vice versa using the same platform....