July 29, 2011 3:21 pm

Apple cracks down on payment links

The love-hate relationship between Apple and the media companies that use its App Store mobile platform took a fresh twist this week as several big-name publishers were forced to remove links in their apps that allowed them to evade the iPhone and iPad maker’s controversial 30 per cent commission on sales of e-books and music subscriptions.

Amazon.com’s Kindle and Google’s e-reader service, both of which compete with Apple’s own iBookstore, removed shortcut links to their own mobile websites outside the App Store.

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Apple banned such “buy buttons” in June but only began to enforce the rules in late July. Music services including Spotify and Rhapsody have also been forced to remove the ability to subscribe to their services from within their apps, as well as information in their description that this is a requirement to use their services on the iPhone.

For these resellers of content, Apple’s 30 per cent commission on all purchases made through the App Store could be the difference between making a profit or a loss on their apps.

Observers said that Apple and app makers would lose out from the changes, by confusing customers and diminishing the overall appeal of the content available on the platform.

At the same time, the BBC gave the iPad a huge endorsement by launching the international version of its popular iPlayer video service, which costs €6.99 a month, on Apple’s tablet. BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial unit, decided that the ease of payment and the quality of the viewer’s experience on the device outweighed the costs and lack of detailed data about its users, another publisher bugbear.

It remains to be seen whether the current stand-off will see the likes of Amazon and Spotify come to the same conclusion or if Google’s rival Android platform, which still lags behind Apple in the quality and quantity of paid-for apps, will benefit.

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