Apple had a tremendous opening weekend for the iPad 2, regardless of which analyst’s estimate you choose to believe, and that success could translate into another win in the company’s next big battle. I’m talking about the in-app purchasing showdown scheduled for the end of June.
As of June 30, Apple will require apps that offer content for use in an app through an external store also offer it through in-app purchasing. Apps must also refrain from providing a link to their own external stores, and hand over the same 30 percent cut to Apple that the company makes from all App Store purchases. Likely the most high profile app that will be affected is Amazon Kindle for iOS devices, which currently handles all its e-book sales through the Amazon web store, but it’s far from alone.
So why did Apple give apps until June 30 to comply with the policy, especially when it already barred the Sony Reader app from even entering the App Store beginning in February? It probably had at least something to do with giving publishers time to get their act in order and figure out how best to comply and rework apps without feeling rushed, but there’s no way that Apple’s release timeline for the iPad 2 didn’t figure into its scheduling in this matter.
The iPad 2’s inability to stay on store shelves serve as a blunt, effective reminder that, when it comes to the tablet market, Apple has the game safely in hand. Essentially, it’s a way of saying “you could opt to walk away, but remember, this is what you’re walking away from.” Amazon may have a hit on its hands with its own Kindle hardware, and apps for every major platform, but walking away from the App Store means turning its back on millions of potential paying customers. It was true before the launch of the iPad 2, but the success of that device serves to underscore the point in a way that’s impossible to logically argue against.
As Ryan notes, new reports have also surfaced that Apple’s lastest update renders web apps launched from the home screen slow and just generally worse than their native App Store. If Apple does indeed want to close the iOS ecosystem even further than it has already, it makes sense that it would do so now, when iOS has enough reach and mindshare to make even Apple’s biggest content partners think twice about disputing the Mac-maker’s terms.
Numbers may be in Apple’s favor going into the June showdown, but there’s still no guarantee that that means things will definitely work out in its favor when the gauntlet drops. Users, for their part, will likely side with the platform they’re most invested in, and for a vast majority, that’s going to mean Apple, although I’ve talked to at least a couple people who say if Amazon leaves iOS, they’ll likely follow. If it does come down to an either/or choice, which side are you on?