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CKA Uber
CKA Uber

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:20 am

Amazon just updated its Kindle app for the iPhone and iPad to remove an important function: The link to its Kindle store where you can go to buy new e-books. Now, Apple device owners will have to figure out on their own that they need to go to Amazon’s website in their Safari browser to buy stuff to read with their Kindle app.

This is a worse customer experience. Amazon’s service — and Apple’s devices — are now slightly harder and clumsier to use. And it’s Apple’s fault.

From now on, the new rule is that if developers want to sell virtual goods and subscriptions that don’t go through Apple’s in-app iTunes commerce system — which forks over a 30% cut to Apple and puts developers at risk of patent lawsuits — they aren’t allowed to link to those other e-commerce stores in their apps anymore.

To comply with Apple’s new rule, Amazon had to remove a useful feature from the Kindle app, making it harder to use. Now, while Apple is fighting to win its moral battle — and perhaps winning another way by pushing people toward its own stores, like iTunes and iBooks — its customers are the ones losing.

One argument I’ve heard is that Apple is, in theory, acting in the customer’s best long-term interest here: iTunes is an easier payment method than Amazon’s Kindle store, so Apple should try to pressure companies to use iTunes for everything over the long run. You know, starve the losers and feed the winners.

But that argument doesn’t hold up in reality. Amazon doesn’t set its prices for e-books — book publishers do. There’s no realistic room in its business to give Apple a 30% cut. Maybe 5%, but not 30%. Same goes for many other services. So using iTunes is a non-starter.

And in the case of the Kindle app, you might be able to argue that its Android version now offers a better, easier user experience than its iPhone version. That’s not the sort of thing Apple should want people to be hearing.

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