Tag Archives: Kindle

Apple denies content purchasing change, confirms content purchasing change

Apple’s Trudy Muller, talking to John Paczkowski:

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,”

But wait…

“We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.” (my emphasis)

So there’s been no change in the rules, but we are now requiring developers to do things differently. But that’s not a change in the rules. Oh no. Citizens, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

Yes, this destroys the model that Kindle currently employs. Kindle offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, either via Safari or a desktop browser. That clearly means that Amazon must now offer the same content via Apple’s in-app purchasing, delivering Apple its 30% due.

We shouldn’t be surprised, because Jean Louis Gassee wrote about this in January:

“Three months ago, without explanation, Apple began withholding approval of new apps using the subscription loophole. Wondering publishers were left without answers.

Then came terse emails recalling the §11.1 of the App Store Review Guidelines :

11.2     Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected

with the following the punch line :

For existing apps already on the App Store, we are providing a grace period to bring your app into compliance with this guideline. To ensure your app remains on the App Store, please submit an update that uses the In App Purchase API for purchasing content, by June 30, 2011.”

Apple has a perfect right to do this, of course. But my bet is that either Amazon will ultimately sue, or it will offer content through IAP – at 30% 42% more than it usually charges. I wonder who will blink first.

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In praise of Kindle

Getting the out-of-box experience right with consumer electronics is hard, which is why so many companies get it wrong. With the Kindle, Amazon has produced a customer experience that Apple would be proud of. In fact, it’s arguable that the integrated experience of Kindle is actually better than anything Apple has done.

Open the box, there’s the Kindle. On screen is a message, telling you how to plug it in to charge and how to turn it on. This message isn’t printed on a cheap sticker – it’s actually on the Kindle screen. One of the advantages of eInk is that you can put something on screen and it will stay there, without drawing power, until the screen is refreshed.

When you turn it on – and like Apple products, it has enough charge to do so straight away if you wish – it’s registered to your account. All your books are there, in the archive, ready to be downloaded. You don’t have to configure anything, because the 3G connectivity is set up.

And there’s a welcome message from Jeff Bezos, personalised with your name. Surprise, and delight.

Then there’s the design of the Kindle itself. With its third iteration, Kindle has crossed the chasm between portable device and just “device”. It’s like a wallet, or a set of keys: We don’t call them “portable wallets”, or “portable keys”, because the portability has reached such a stage that it’s intrinsic to what it is.

The same is true of Kindle. It’s slim and light enough to slip into a bag and forget, just as you would a wallet or a set of keys. It adds so little weight that you can effectively forget its there.

The design of it is beautiful, yet functional. The one jibe is the row of keys, which are small and a little clunky. Everything else feels and looks great.

Even the power charger goes above and beyond. Like the Apple iPhone chargers, it’s like a slightly over-sized plug. In fact, it’s so much like a plug that you probably would struggle to spot it on a four-way block – which is probably why they’ve printed a neat little Amazon logo on it.

The integration with Amazon is, as you’d expect, seamless. Buy a book, boom – it’s downloaded in seconds. The experience of managing the Kindle, subscriptions, and so on on Amazon’s site is clear and easy.

Of course, the price you pay for this integration is buying books from Amazon and nowhere else. You can’t loan the books to anyone else, and there no way (yet) for someone to gift you a book from your wish list. But given that the prices of the books is so low, most customers won’t care. These are, like the original paperbacks, throw-away books. If I can’t read them in 50 years time, will I really care that much?

If you’re considering getting an iPad primarily to read books from Amazon, consider getting a Kindle instead. The iPad can do lots of things that the Kindle can’t, and never will be able to do. It’s a crappy browser, it doesn’t do email, there’s no apps. But it’s also much, much cheaper and unless you’re reading in low light (where the Kindle’s e-ink screen fails) it’s generally a better reading experience.

Even if, like me, you’ve got an iPad already, I’d still consider getting a Kindle if you’re a voracious book reader. It can slip into a jacket pocket, and go with you when you don’t want to carry a bag. It’s ideal for those situations when you’ve got to take a laptop, and don’t want the extra weight of the iPad. And the syncing is completely silent, completely invisible, and totally in the background. You never have to worry about whether you’re started the app and synced your books, which isn’t true of any other Kindle platform.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a book to read.

Amazon caves in to Macmillan, pouts and sulks

Macmillan E-books – kindle Discussion Forum:

We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.

Someone should tell them that companies which have a monopoly over their own ebook-reading hardware and use DRM to tie books to that platform really don’t have a lot of a ground to be pouting over “monopolies”.

Why Sony’s eReader beats the pants off the Kindle

Sony‘s set to release some new ebook readers following on from the very-nice PRS505, and Jordan Golson at GigaOm looks at them and finds them wanting. His point is that the killer feature for ebooks is wireless. and makes some snarky comments about Sony’s lack thereof.

Jordan also seems to be under the impression that Sony is somehow “proprietary” compared.

“The new devices, of course, don’t connect to either of the high-profile e-book stores, Amazon’s Kindle store nor Barnes & Noble’s newly launched entry, but instead uses Sony’s proprietary e-book store, which has more than 1 million titles (mostly public domain titles from Google’s Books project) — but, because your device has to be connected to your computer to buy books, it’s not the great leap forward we’ve been hoping for.”

How is Sony’s store more “proprietary” than Amazon’s? AZW, used by Amazon, is a closed, proprietary format used by a single vendor. With Sony, you have a choice of formats even if you buy DRM’d books (ePub, BBeB and Secure PDF), some of which (ePub) are open standards. Or, you can choose to avoid DRM and use a completely open standard like ePub.

With Sony, I have a choice of stores. I can buy from Sony (of course), BooksOnBoard, Waterstones (in the UK), and others. I can shop around for the best price. With the Kindle, I can buy from… erm… Amazon. Or Amazon. And it has to be Amazon.com – no other International stores allowed (yet).

(Of course, at the moment, Amazon is selling ebooks at very good prices – in fact, some reckon, at a loss. But does anyone seriously think that will last if/when Kindle is established as the de facto ebook platform?)

So is Sony a lame alternative? No – it’s a better alternative. It supports more formats, and gives me the choice of more stores. The only advantage the Kindle has is convenience, and if you’re outside of wireless range that evaporates into nothing. What’s more, because my ebook reader doesn’t have a constant connection to the net, there’s no opportunity for Sony to pull the plug on books remotely, either.

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