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Sony Reader App Banned By Apple

David Gilbert


Sony Reader App Blocked By Apple

Apple's iOS was the operating system to introduce in-app payments but according to reports today, it is looking to lock down the system even further and only allow in-app payments if they go through the Apple Store.

The issue came to light after Apple told Sony it was not going to allow its iPhone Reader app into the App Store because it would have allowed users to buy and read e-books bought directly from the Sony Reader Store. According to the New York Times, Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division said that Apple told his company that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple.

Other e-reader apps from the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble are permitted in the App Store but in the case of the Kindle and Nook apps, they point you to a website where you purchase content, rather than doing so in-app. However the complete ban on content brought in from external stores is an unwelcome and surprising development considering, as the New York Times point out, “Apple has indicated recently that it would be more collaborative, not less, with magazine publishers and other content producers that want more control over how to distribute content on the iPad.”

Apple has long been known for its love of locking down its ecosystem of hardware and software and this move will be seen as another step in that direction, if true. Apple declined to comment on the story in the New York Times.

Source: New York Times


February 1, 2011, 8:59 pm

This is not a "from now on" thing, it's been like that for ages. If Sony could actually be bothered to read the T&Cs they would know this and used something similar to what Amazon et al did. Instead have resorted to moan about it and see if the publicity would help them bend the rules...

Reality is if Apple allowed this it would have to allow alternative payment schemes for all apps and for many reasons, not all of them selfish, they don't want this.


February 1, 2011, 9:16 pm

Like "The Girl" Apple are play with fire here. IOS devices face eventual obscurity and pulling stunts like this will not slow that process.

Apple take their cut when an app is bought. This is for providing the app store infrastructure as well as bags of profit no doubt. I can see no justification for continuing to profit when the app store is no longer needed. Is all the current tying that Apple does to it's own services not enough?


February 1, 2011, 9:25 pm

hey sony: USE A WEBAPP and side step the stupid appstore rules, HTML(5) then people can just buy books and view them online (using any payment sony wants) I'm sure they could even do some sort of offline cacheing of files using HTML(5) if they want to., also means your bookmarks could be synced between devices and e-readers as data is 'in the cloud'

it would also simultaneously bring the 'app' to all platforms that support web apps eg android which in basic economic terms equals more potential customers.

but no people just have to use a stupid one dimentional 'appstore', like I mean an iplayer app when the webapp works 100% perfectly = STUPIDITY

Pendejo Sin Nombre

February 1, 2011, 10:04 pm

Has it not always been that way - hence the Kindle and Nook apps work the way they do?

Sony apparently also tried to store the downloads in an unapproved way though this is only going by a post on another site (Endgaget) -

"Also, Sony is also downloading the content inside the app's own storage, not as raw files, making the (sic) impossible to sync back and forth to a PC or other devices, and also violating the in-app updating content from 3rd party sources rules."

If these are long-standing 'rules' where is the idea that they're 'looking to lock down the system further' coming from?


February 1, 2011, 10:08 pm

The rules, or their application, seem a bit confused.

To buy a Kindle book I must use Safari. But to buy from Amazon itself I can just use the app.

Well done to Apple for creaming off money left, right and cente. And above and below. Thick profits on the hardare, 30% on every app, a cut off all media purchased with no alternatives allowed.

Such is the price of convenience/ignorance/fashion. Why would they do any differently when the masses are happy to accept the lock down?


Games excepted a lot of apps could be easily replaced by well designed mobile websites. Worse still are the iPad apps, what happened to the magical web browsing experience?!

It still annoys me how the BBC wasted license fee money on an iOS app for the minority when their mobile site is so poor. Like you say, iPlayer through mobile Safari is already superb, why is an app needed?

Pendejo Sin Nombre

February 1, 2011, 11:30 pm

I take it back somewhat.

It's being reported that Apple have now responded and say, while nothing has changed, they are going to enforce in-app purchases alongside out of app purchases meaning Amazon and Barnes & Noble, for example, will have to change their apps to add in-app purchasing via Apple's system I guess.

This could get interesting and I can't see how it's going to work out in Apple's or more importantly the user's favour.

I hope it's been misreported, otherwise it seems like a very bad move to me.


February 1, 2011, 11:46 pm

Amazon have the right idea when it comes to content. Buy it once, use it everywhere. I dislike Apples idea of locking content behind their ecosystem (of apps).

Sure dedicated apps for content such as iplayer may look nice, but is essentially what a "web os" system Jolicloud does and that isn't going to do very well when it isn't much work to go straight to a website.

I look forward to the app ecosystem being refreshed when apps work from within web browsers on ANY device. Rather than per platform. I'll give this about 2 years to happen.


February 1, 2011, 11:58 pm

To continue on my previous post, I forgot to mention that it is harder to put a paywall on a site, than it is an app. This is in my opinion, the major reason why those app developers of amazing ipad aps, such as musical or notepad apps are put off doing the same in a web browser.


February 2, 2011, 2:08 am


Not at all, it's much easier to put a paywall on a website..

The reason people are put off from web brower applications is that the web sucks at almost everything except displaying content.

For all the web 2.0 and HTML5 hot air that goes around the reality is that the very latest web features only let us reproduce the interaction that any >10 year old app could easily do, and even so they in such a mind boggling broken manner (eg having to use three different languages just to display a simple interface)


February 2, 2011, 3:29 am

@Gk.pm, I mean in relation to getting users to pay for something through a paywall on a website as opposed to an app. People expect websites to provide content for free/w advertising. However put the same functionality into an app that a website provides, and they lap it up.


February 2, 2011, 4:31 am

@darkspark88 Ah right, yes that's true. But that's also because there isn't an easy charging mechanism for websites like there is for apps. This is something the Japanese were very successful at over 11 years with their i-Mode system, where billing for i-Mode sites is done by the mobile company.

Unfortunately when it finally arrived in Europe people had already been traumatised by WAP and demanded the real Web. Also mobile companies demanded such a large cut of payments that even Apple's 30% seems like a fantastic deal.


February 2, 2011, 12:04 pm

It's Apple's shopping centre. If Sony wants into it, then they're aware of the concessions they have to make. Otherwise, they know where they can go (and presumably make less money). Imagine if you walked into the Waterstone's in The Plaza and all the books had big signs on them directing you back out into an alternate branch on Oxford Street in which you'd have to buy them. The deal is,"It's our mall - if you shop there, you stay there" - not, "Sorry, nothing to buy here - here's a map to go elsewhere, and thanks for stopping by."


February 2, 2011, 2:16 pm

Its an interesting position for apple to take, and also quite risky since if Apple are now going to enforce all book purchases to go through their App store then I can see the major ebook app suppliers (i.e kindle, Barnes&Noble) simply removing the buying option from the app and having the apps be "read only". This would probably annoy many users and provide some with an incentive to look at the upcoming Android Tablets rather than the next iPad.

@GoldenGuy - Im not sure if thats such a good anaolgy, since in walking into Waterstones you havent paid waterstones anything at that point, where as with the iPad you have already paid Apple for the Hardware. I see it more like buying a Mac but having apple say you can't install Steam and buy games there becuase they want you to go through their own App store, or staying with your waterstones analogy, buying a waterstones ereader and having them tell you you can't buy or use eBooks from your own collection, only ones bought directly from them.


February 2, 2011, 4:22 pm

@ Stelph

No I was talking from the perspective of the retailer not the user. But if you want : there might not be a precedent with reading (it's not a library, it's a business) but it happens with food all the time. You can't walk into a McDonald's with like, one of their promotional happy meal cups, lunch boxes or what have you, and simply load it up with your own food and drink, whilst using their tables and chairs. If I wanna do that, I go to an open space like a damn park bench.

From Sony's POV, if they're gonna rent Apple's space, use their facilities and their delivery system, then they need to give Apple a cut and abide by their day-to-day rules. In a mall, the tax man, haulage vehicles company, billing system company, the site owner, etc., all get paid. If Apple take the electronic equivalent of that on but Sony wants to pick and choose with that complete solution, then they can build their own HW/SW eco-system, or go open with Android and see how much money they make then.

I'll concede this much - if I felt Apple were making the revenue split less and less fair over time, while there were no other digital distribution options for Sony, then I'd support it becoming an anti-competition investigation (though it'd be a bit rich coming from the monster media and electronics empire of Sony!). But right now, for association to the App Store/iDevices base, the simplified shopping and payment experience, and the installation procedure, for what they offer, I don't think Apple are crossing the line at all. Yet.


February 2, 2011, 4:30 pm

For a while I truly thought the age of the web app was dawning - services/apps delivered via the web browser both on and offline.

This whole march towards app stores is counter to the the way the world was moving - it's a bit like sky buying all the free sports games we used to get on the TV - and then selling them back to us for ever increasing amounts.

Hopefully the paying public will wake up before too much longer and realise the lock in - and that there's a better way of consuming apps.

Imagine buying a PC and the manufacturer saying you could only put software/music/books etc on it that you bought from them - you wouldn't buy the pc.

Interestingly Apple have just launched an app store for their PCs ( Macs ) - I wonder how long it takes before they attempt the lock in there too .....

Grahame Cohen

February 2, 2011, 5:53 pm

IMHO any system that tries too hard to lock down a persons freedom will eventually fail. Take Egypt for example. It's just a matter of time, hence Android's very fast dominance in the smart phone sector. Thanks for innovating but take note Apple.


February 2, 2011, 6:18 pm

Did you know that even on iDevices you can put in any DRM-free music or books? It's only apps that are controlled.

This is actually a good thing, because it means I can give an iPad to my mother and not worry about installing anti-viruses, anti-keyloggers and trojans, backups and all those wonderful byproducts of more open computing.. Any problems and she can easily restore things herself and all updates are all neatly shown instead of it being a bespoke mess.

Apple is not restricting anything on the normal computer platforms, so stop with your fear mongering...


February 2, 2011, 7:31 pm


By chance I set up my Mum's laptop for her last night after getting it back from Acer with a fault fixed. Set up involved installing Microsoft Security Essentials and turning on automatic updates. Hardly rocket science or time consuming but I guess you were going for dramatic effect.

Would anyone really be surprised if at some point down the road Apple did make the MAS the only way to buy software on OSX?


February 2, 2011, 7:52 pm


maybe you missed the fact that YOU had to set up your mum's laptop after coming back from repair is enough to illustrate my point... The world is full of moms whose children can not do it for them, or people who don't want to worry with such things, so there is enough space in the market for both closed and open devices.

I, plus a few other millions, would indeed be very surprised if Apple moved on to close OSX. I think you would see MS move to it first, and hey remember who came up with Palladium...? (if you don't know, google/bing/blekko it)


February 2, 2011, 9:16 pm


"No I was talking from the perspective of the retailer not the user. But if you want : there might not be a precedent with reading (it's not a library, it's a business) but it happens with food all the time. You can't walk into a McDonald's with like, one of their promotional happy meal cups, lunch boxes or what have you, and simply load it up with @ your own food and drink, whilst using their tables and chairs. If I wanna do that, I go to an open space like a damn park bench."

I dont think we'll ever find an anaology that we'd both agree with :-)

In the case you put above i'd argue that in the case you presented its not the same as you are taking up space in the restaurant, making mess that others have to tidy up ect and you actually do have the option of using a park bench. With the iPad although the app is taking up space on the app store, that ill grant you, apple have not made available any other way of loading apps, and once the app is on the app store it doesnt take up any more space since the eBooks are loaded outside of the app store (so whats that, 30mb?)

Using your same analogy i would see it like buying a happy meal cup and McDonalds making it impossible for you to ever use or store any food in the container unless it came from a McDonalds, or in this case selling tubs that you can use to put any food in (iPad with Kindle app) then suddenly changing the tubs remotely so you can only put their food in.

And now im hungry :-)


February 2, 2011, 9:22 pm

My comment was more in response to your labouring the point about keyloggers, trojans and backups. Security on Windows couldn't be more straightforward unless MS were allowed to install antivirus by default.

I'm actually thinking about getting my Mum an iPad2 and I'm fairly sure I'd have to set that up for her as well unless the new version will somehow be magically filled with her favourite media out of the box.


February 2, 2011, 9:43 pm


Totally justifies Apple making 30% of subscription revenues for doing nothing. On android if you're not happy with the way the marketplace works at least you can get people to download an app from your website.


February 2, 2011, 10:08 pm

@ Stelph

"And now im hungry :-)"

LOL. I'm lovin' it... damn it, they GOT me!


February 3, 2011, 5:01 pm


Apple certainly does the billing. Now consider that most subscriptions are low amounts (eg 59p) and that credit card companies charge minimum transaction fees of about 10-15p + a small percentage- which is fair enough, transactions have to be sent to banks, statements have to be printed, etc - I think you'll see how that 30% works out.

30% of 59p, less tax, is only about 15p.

To make it fair and transparent Apple should really charge a minimum fee + lower percentage like Paypal etc. Exactly why they don't do it I'm no sure, but maybe the current system encourages developers to price their apps at lower prices?

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