Monday, July 25, 2011

Cooler heads prevail when dealing with Apple's App Store purchase rules: most retailers quietly update their apps

It's the end of the world as we know it, or not. As Apple's June 30 deadline came and went the world did not explode and few apps got booted out of the App Store. Instead, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other quietly updated their apps, taking out direct links to website retail stores, essentially converting their apps into "reader" apps.

The Kindle iOS app, prior to the update,
still with its Kindle Store link in tact.

Back in February, Apple let it be known that it would ban apps that had links to out-of-App Store retail sites, forcing retailers and publishers to either use the Apple in-app purchase option or else convert their apps to "reader" apps – apps that can display content but in which customers can not buy the service within the app. Netflix, as an example, is popular with iPad owners, but one must become a customer directly on the Netflix, using that user information in their iPad app.

Tech writers spilled a lot of ink wondering if Amazon would pull out to the App Store, and which publishers would join in some phantom rush to other platforms. But no such thing has happened, instead, Amazon today updated its app to bring it into compliance.

Some writers have even said that Google had withdrawn its Google Books app. Well, no. An update was just issued for the app and it can be found safely inside the App Store – no need to see if the sky is falling.

But that doesn't mean competitors to Apple like the rules. No, Amazon made their opinion quite clear by letting customers know why this update is occurring: "This update removes the Kindle Store button from the app" reads the app description. The description then goes on to promote the Kindle Store and its newspaper and magazine offerings.

Of course just because an app has been updated doesn't mean the user has to go ahead and do the update. My iTunes program is currently telling me that I have updates waiting from Amazon and Google, but I can either just ignore them, or safer yet, delete the apps from iTunes, keeping them on my device instead. These apps are all free, after all, so if necessary they can be downloaded again later.

The Wall Street Journal said today that it will comply with App Store rules, though they have not issued an update just yet.

"We remain concerned that Apple's own subscription [rules] would create a poor experience for our readers, who would not be able to directly manage their WSJ account or to easily access our content across multiple platforms," a Journal spokeswoman is quoted as stating in the WSJ story on the app.

Meanwhile the WSJ is currently promoting its appearance in an iPad 2 commercial in its app description: "See us featured in Apple's latest iPad2 commercial."

Guess there is no reason to piss off Apple by making too big a deal out of all this seeing as how they are giving them free publicity, huh?