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Old 08-02-2013, 12:03 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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DOJ: Let's force Apple to allow in-app links to bookstores

Remember back in 2011 when Apple bought the hammer down on iOS e-reader apps? Companies, including Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Kobo, were no longer allowed to link to their respective online bookstore, but rather exclusively use Apple's in-app subscription system (which, conveniently, promised the latter a 30% cut on generated sales). Well, perhaps Apple will have to revise its business plan in the upcoming days.

If it's up to the DOJ, e-book app vendors should be allowed to link to their stores again for the next two years:

Quote:
To reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy, Apple must also for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple’s prices with those of its competitors.
In addition, the DOJ is suggesting that Apple should end its existing agreements with the five publishers it's accused of conspiring with and refrain from entering new e-book distribution contracts for five years.

[via TechCrunch]

[related: Apple eBook price fixing case going to court]
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:18 PM   #2
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Why only 2 years? That decision to force apps to remove links to their stores is anticompetitive, it should not be allowed plain and simple.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:35 PM   #3
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If they have to end the current agreements and not create new ones for 5 years, they aren't really going to have a bookstore left at that point.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:38 PM   #4
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Why only 2 years? That decision to force apps to remove links to their stores is anticompetitive, it should not be allowed plain and simple.
Nobody "forced" anyone to remove links.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:33 PM   #5
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Nobody "forced" anyone to remove links.
Perhaps not literally, but that was the effect.
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Old 08-02-2013, 01:56 PM   #6
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Yes, Amazon could have kept the store link if they stopped updating their app (which they did not in fact update for some months if I remember correctly). But that can't go on forever.

So...can we get iFlow Reader back now?
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:17 PM   #7
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Nobody "forced" anyone to remove links.
Right, because handing over 30% of your sale price to apple is such a reasonable alternative.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:19 PM   #8
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Apple are providing a service. It's their store; they can set whatever rules they want.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:40 PM   #9
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Apple are providing a service. It's their store; they can set whatever rules they want.
Not any more. Convicted antitrust violators really and truly are special snowflakes.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Apple are providing a service. It's their store; they can set whatever rules they want.
Harry, let's not kid ourselves. The sole purpose of that change in policy was to force 3rd party apps to remove links so it is harder for people to compare prices.

Yes, they can do as they please on their app store, which does not imply what they do is right.
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Old 08-02-2013, 02:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afv011 View Post
Why only 2 years? That decision to force apps to remove links to their stores is anticompetitive, it should not be allowed plain and simple.
Sooo . . . will Amazon allow me to add my itunes links to my Kindle ebooks? . . .
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Old 08-02-2013, 03:52 PM   #12
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Apple are providing a service. It's their store; they can set whatever rules they want.
They could, and there was nothing directly illegal about charging what many people considered an egregious fee for allowing ebook apps to link to there stores. Since 30% was the "agency fee," and several stores' percentage of self-pub ebooks, it meant that linking would hand over their entire revenue from the sales to Apple.

This is roughly equivalent to a neighbor saying "you can park in the extra space in my driveway if you pay me your entire net intake for that day." Legal: Yes; Reasonable: No.

However, since Apple has been found guilty of anti-competitive crimes, the judge has the right to consider *all* of their business activities, not just the ones directly under scrutiny. They're being required to support some of the competition they attempted to squash.
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:38 PM   #13
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Apple wants the feds to blow them a kiss and let them keep on pulling more of the same shennannigans:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-575...-books-battle/

Quote:
Apple said, it should place "reasonable limitations on Apple's ability to share information," prohibit agreements with publishers from having "most favored nation" pricing pacts that give Apple the best price, and "reasonable antitrust training obligations for Apple, lasting a reasonable term."
And that's it.
No fines, no restitution, and they get to keep all the market share they garnered by breaking the law.

Because, Apple is so trustworthy that their promise not to collude a third time can be believed.

I hope they keep this up.
The judge is bound to be thrilled by the posturing and PR smoke-n-mirrors.
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:41 PM   #14
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Frankly, if I was Apple, I'd say, "OK, we won't have any special agreements or maintain existing deals with publishers, in fact ebooks are such a small part of our business that we'll drop 'em altogether and not have any 3rd party ebook apps either... just to ensure we aren't accused of unfair action again... anyone who wants to read can use third party (non-publisher/retailer) apps to read books they source elsewhere..." That should please retailers, make all the publishers really happy and keep the DoJ out of the way... all in all, a real benefit to consumers everywhere...
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:47 PM   #15
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Frankly, if I was Apple, I'd say, "OK, we won't have any special agreements or maintain existing deals with publishers, in fact ebooks are such a small part of our business that we'll drop 'em altogether and not have any 3rd party ebook apps either... just to ensure we aren't accused of unfair action again... anyone who wants to read can use third party (non-publisher/retailer) apps to read books they source elsewhere..." That should please retailers, make all the publishers really happy and keep the DoJ out of the way... all in all, a real benefit to consumers everywhere...
Source the reading apps elsewhere?
To do that, Apple would have to allow sideloading of apps and end the itunes appstore exclusivity.
The feds would approve it in a heartbeat.
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