Dear bloggers, media outlets and other freelance writers, stop bitching about the Readabillity application issue for Apple iOS. I understand that you BELIEVE developers should be able to determine how they make money with their applications, but unless I’ve completely went brain dead, Apple created their iOS platform so they could also profit off their work and the work you perform and publish with THEIR permission.
If you haven’t been following the web uproar today, the application titled “Readability” has come under fire and has been banned by Apple because the program allows readers to pay a subscription fee to avoid ads found in full articles. In return Readability pays 70% of their subscription fee for the “no ads” option back to publishers. Now Apple has stepped in and they say Readability isn’t allowed in the app store because it requires a separate subscription in which Apple does not receive their typical 30% cut for subscription services, which in turn would mean readability gets nothing for their efforts or in the least must pay 30% of the 30% they receive which seems fair since it is the iOS system and carrier data networks which are delivering that content.
According to a readability blog post the 30 percent cut by Apple “drastically undermines a key premise of how Readability works,” and “smacks of greed.” Perhaps Readability shouldn’t have made that type of promise without thinking about how they were cutting Apple out of their program.
Let’s be clear about one thing, the Readability issue is not Apple’s fault, it’s a bad business model on the part of the application developer, they promised a high return on investment to their publishers without taking into account the fact that Apple would require or could eventually require some type of fee for allowing their application to be used across cellular networks they don’t own.
If Apple was to allow this type of action on the part of Readability it would open up the same type of practices for e-Books and other digitally delivered content. After all who’s to say that Penguin Books (just as an example) couldn’t release a “Pay To Read” monthly subscription for $10 at unlimited books (like a Netflix for books), thus cutting out Apple from their own book profit structure.
Donald Melanson at Engadget says “Apple’s new subscription policy has already drawn plenty of criticism — not to mention the eye of the FTC and DOJ” then another Engadget writer Laura June stated “So, what does that mean? Well, these kinds of pre-investigations are pretty common, so it could mean nothing at all. Or, it could lead to a more formal investigation into if the policy violates antitrust laws.” The truth of the matter is, Apple is in NO VIOLATION of any U.S. laws, they provide their own platform in which developers agree to follow Apple’s own Terms Of Service (TOS) when publishing apps. If publishers have a problem with the company’s software they can wait for a new iOS to arrive with even more stringent guidelines that exclude their practices, at which point they will be forced to leave the iOS platform behind, program their apps to meet requirements or move onto a new platform such as Google Android.
Apple has a right as an Operating System developer to make money off their iOS platform and if they choose to bar programs that are cutting them out of the equation it will help them ensure that more “inventive” profit slashing practices are not committed in the future, while they can then justify banning further profit exclusion practices based on past practices. It’s like the common law court system in the United States, you create a precedent and then you judge other incidents off those precedents.
The DOJ and FCC will not touch Apple’s practices as they are based around their own proprietary software and with Google Android taking up a larger percentage of the market on a daily basis it’s not an issue of monopolistic business decisions. Everyone needs to relax and realize the Readability issue is one of fair practices when utilizing another company’s software, not one of industry exclusion and fear mongering on the part of Apple’s mobile business sector.