If you like buying electronic books on an iPhone or iPad from Amazon, Kobo, Google, or Barnes and Noble, after today the process for how you buy books and get them on your device will change. All of the major eReader apps, along with other apps that sell items, have been changed to remove the ability to buy the items within the app. Instead, you will need to access the web stores of these companies to buy the items that can then be pushed to the device, or the providers have to provide the content to be sold in Apple’s App Store.
The updates that have been made to Kindle and Nook apps, amongst others, is due to a change to Apple’s terms and conditions made back in June that forbid in-app purchases within iOS apps. Instead, Apple wants purchases to occur within the iPhone and iPad App Stores where it collects 30% of each sale.
While the changes don’t prevent Apple’s competitors from selling content that will ultimately be used on iOS devices, it does force their customers to go through extra hoops. Android versions of the same apps will now have a noticeable difference by providing in-app purchases.
The Nook Color from Barnes and Noble, which recently took top sales amongst eReaders, is built on Android, and Amazon is believed to be developing their own tablet, also built on Android. Both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have a vested interest in enabling people to buy and read content they sell on iOS devices, but as the tablet market gets more competitive, I expect the companies to point out how much easier it is to buy books using their tablets.
Presumably Apple is not only trying to get a cut on content sales, but probably also provide an advantage for their own iBooks app. However, it will be interesting to see whether those two items will be worth providing marketing ammunition for their competitors.