Apple States the Obvious and Inevitable

MG Siegler — Apple States the Obvious and Inevitable

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.

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 Digital Editions.

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 distributor.

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.

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