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Does Apple’s iBooks ambition mean a new DRM regime for existing e-book app makers? Less than a week after the new iBooks store was announced alongside the iPad, the Amazon-owned Stanza iPhone e-books app has released an upgrade, the version notes for which read: “Removed ability to share books via USB as required by Apple.”
Amongst the leading iPhone e-book apps, Stanza allowed users to transfer books from their computers to the handset using both cable and WiFi via an accompanying desktop application. The WiFi sync feature remains; it’s unclear why the wired transfer feature alone has been nobbled, the wireless method means Stanza Desktop remains effectively a free book server.
Amazon’s Kindle, iPad’s existing e-book rival, already had a Kindle iPhone app of its own, but Amazon acquired Stanza developer Lexcycle in a further strategic move in April 2009. On Stanza’s first birthday in July, Lexcycle said the app had clocked up two million downloads and generated 12 million e-book downloads; some paid, some free. In other words, Amazon’s existing place in the iOS e-book apps market is one of the biggest challenges, if challenges exist, to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) making a success of its upcoming iBooks store.
Stanza’s forums have been hearing one or two complaints from users. Lexcycle tells TechCrunch it’s “forbidden from discussing the specifics of our conversations with Apple on this matter”. Apple previously required developer DigiDNA to remove a similar desktop USB file transfer feature from its FileAid app, though that decision was later turned around.
Update: Apple tells us: “We requested Stanza remove the USB functionality in their app as it was a simple case of the developer using private APIs in violation of the developer agreement.”