If you’re going to consume content on their device, Apple would prefer that you buy
that content from them and not from a competitor.
Or if you do buy want to buy it from the competitor, that’s okay, but then there’s
a corkage fee. Only you don’t pay the corkage fee, the competitor does. (Well,
unless they pass off the extra cost to you.)
Can you read iBooks on the Kindle? What about Sony’s books? Nope.
It’s neither complicated nor evil. [It’s business](http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/01/i-quit-quitting-the-ipad/).
For those of us who aren't 100% based on iOS, we'd be quite happy to let you read
your Apple-supplied iBooks on our devices. We believe our reading experience is
superior. But that's not about to happen, because Apple doesn't share their DRM
with us. We can, however, display books purchased through our own store,
downloaded from O'Reilly or Pragmatic Publishing, or anything published using Adobe
The restaurant analogy still doesn't hold up though. I, as a consumer, don't want
to use iBooks. I would prefer to use a different app, whether Kindle, Kobo, Stanza,
or whatever. But Apple would like me to pay them anyway. Not only must I purchase
the device from them, I must only purchase content for that device through a means
which makes them more money.
To take the restaurant analogy to its correct conclusion, we have a few players:
The restaurants are providers of food. eBookstores are providers of eBooks.
Therefore restaurants here would be analogous to Apple, Amazon, Kobo, etc.
The food is analogous to an eBook. If I want to read an eBook purchased from Apple,
I must use iBooks. If I want to read a Kindle book, I use Kindle, for a Kobo book,
the Kobo app (unless I download the Adobe Digital Editions version of the book, at
which point I can use any of a bunch of readers, on iOS and otherwise). This is
fair, since I wouldn't buy a pizza from Pizza Hut and walk into La Dolce Vita to
eat it alongside people paying twice as much for their gourmet pizzas.
So where is the iPad in this analogy? I don't see it. Mr. Siegler would
have us believe that the iPad is the restaurant, which is incorrect. The iPad
acts as neither merchant nor distributor or provider. It is a platform, a means by
which some action might be performed. For a restaurant, one could say the iPad is
analogous to crockery or cutlery. The iOS SDK might be an oven, for instance.
Content publishers and app developers would each be part of the kitchen team:
creating the food and making it look presentable in their own unique ways.
The original restaurant analogy, then, would suggest that Apple is a restaurant
which makes its own utensils and sells them, but then says that you can't take
those utensils elsewhere— if you use a fork purchased from Apple Restaurant
(Caffé Macs?) then you must also purchase food from Apple Restaurant to eat with
it. When I buy cutlery from Marks & Spencer, there's no requirement that I also
purchase food from their food aisle.
iOS is the medium by which consumption occurs in this case, nothing more. The
publishers make the content, us developers make it look pretty, each in our own
way. Apple is one such developer. Us distributors attempt to make customers
purchase said prettified content from our stores. Again, Apple is one such
When I purchase books from Apple's iBookstore, they are providing a new service
to me– the assembly and provision of an eBook. When I purchase one from Amazon
or Kobo, Apple is providing no such service to me whatsoever. The argument that
they have the right to claim some money because I'm using an Apple device is false,
because I've already paid for that device– upwards of $700 in this case. I
don't get charged by Apple when I browse the internet or watch YouTube, so why
does Apple need to take a cut when I download an eBook?
Answer: they don't. They're just being greedy.
It's wrong. Let's stop trying to blindly justify it, m'kay? Let's let our
displeasure be known.