Monday, August 1, 2011

How Apple Is Pushing Me Away, Towards Amazon

I held off for a bit but finally wound up letting iTunes update the Kindle app on my iPad. It was my tiny protest against Apple's forced removal of the "Shop in Kindle Store" button in the app. But then I noticed the updated app also lets you view "some" magazine subscriptions, so I decided I wanted that functionality enough that I was willing to live without the in-app purchase ability.

(Notice I said "some" magazine subscriptions. Based on the recommendation of a colleague, I recently signed up for a Kindle subscription to The New Yorker. It's a weekly magazine and a bargain at $2.99/month. Unfortunately it's also one of several Kindle magazines that aren't available for the iPad. I guess the magazine's publisher, Conde Nast, is trying to protect their iPad app investment. The subscription rate for the iPad app version is $5.99/month so they're probably not too keen on letting me enjoy my Kindle subscription there as well.)

Back to the loss of in-app ebook purchasing in the Kindle app... It's easy enough to create an icon that links directly to the Kindle ebook store on your iPad. Just go to, touch the icon to the right of the bookmarks icon (the one with the right-facing arrow coming out of the box), select "Add to Home Screen", give it a name (I went with "Kindle Store") and press the Add button. I dragged it into my Books folder and placed it next to the Kindle app (see image at top of post). You'll see it even comes with its own attractive icon. So now when I want to buy an ebook from Amazon I just touch that icon and am immediately in the Kindle store.

This is all rather silly though, don't you think? Apple's goal here was to get on even footing with Amazon and be able to earn a 30% cut of any books bought within the app. Amazon's removal of the in-app purchase button means (a) customers have to buy from outside the app and (b) Apple still gets zero. So in the end, Apple, the supposed king of elegant user interface design makes it more awkward for Kindle app users on their iPad.

Here's what I'd love to see happen: Amazon (or someone else) releases a Kindle ebook that's (a) nothing more than that link I provided above ( and (b) always locks itself in the top right corner of my Kindle book list, just below where the old "Shop in Kindle Store" button used to be. In fact, maybe this special ebook could be called "Shop in Kindle Store." It's a free ebook, you download it to your iPad and anytime you touch it you'll launch Safari and head to the Kindle store!

Could Apple prevent something like this from happening? I'd like to think not but it all depends on how Apple wants to interpret and enforce the language in section 11.14 of the App Store guidelines (see this TechCrunch post for a comparison of old vs. new wording). It starts off by saying "Apps can read or play approved content..." So what does "approved content" mean? Nobody at Apple is reviewing the almost one million ebooks in the Kindle store, right? This one would jump out at them though, I'm sure. :-)

But what if Apple does intervene and say my proposed workaround is not acceptable? Then where do they draw the line? Will publishers no longer be able to include any links to other products for sale in the Kindle store or elsewhere?

That would be ridiculous, but it's all part of the reason why I'm anxious to dump my iPhone as well as my iPad and jump to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S II Android phone (recommended by my son) as well as whatever Android-based tablet Amazon releases later this year. I'm tired of Apple's games and ready to make the switch.


gadgetboy said...

Or, you could simply create a home screen icon all by yourself:

Unknown said...

Kindle samples already include such a link at the end, but it doesn't work from within the Kindle app. I don't see a link anywhere else being any different.

Gayle said...

Thanks for the great tip.