Apple is further tightening its control of the App Store. The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.
Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store.
Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division.
The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon.
That may now change.
“It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store.”
Apple and Amazon declined to comment.
The change may signal a shift for Apple. The company has made more money selling hardware than music, e-books or apps. If people could have access to more content from more sources on their iPhones and iPads, the thinking went, then they would buy more devices.
The move is also surprising, as Apple has indicated recently that it would be more collaborative, not less, with magazine publishers and other content producers that want more control over how to distribute content on the iPad.
“This sudden shift perhaps tells you something about Apple’s understanding of the value of its platform,” said James McQuivey, a consumer electronics analyst at Forrester Research. “Apple started making money with devices. Maybe the new thing that everyone recognizes is the unit of economic value is the platform, not the device.”