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The Apple iPad is a wonderful device. The first model was a beautiful design and the new version is even slicker. My husband loves his iPad 1. But one thing about the iPad is, it's the ultimate walled garden. Actually, it's more of a domed garden, because you can't even fly into it. Pretty much all Apple devices are. Apple sells the hardware and the software for not only their desktop machines but their mobile devices, too. They control access to the platform completely. If you want to put an app on your iPhone or your iPad, not only does someone have to create it, Apple has to allow them to sell it through the app store.

Apple has always censored what can appear in the app store. It can't be too naughty and it can't be something that helps or even mentions their competition. And now they have decided that in addition to controlling what apps can be sold, they will require that all apps that sell content on other platforms have to sell it from within the iOS app, too. Okay, that doesn't sound too bad. But wait! Retailers also have to give Apple a cut of anything sold within an app. A very deep 30% cut. And not only that, the product can't be sold for more on the Apple platform than it is on other platforms. So, Amazon and Barnes & and Sony can have eReader apps, but they have to provide for a way to purchase content from within the app (as opposed to by taking the reader to a browser) and they have to price that content the same or cheaper than it is from other sources.

I happen to think all corporations are, by nature, greedy. Amazon and Sony and Barnes & Noble aren't in business for fun. They all want to make as much money as they can. Jeff Bezos is certainly no Mother Teresa. Even publishers are under more pressure to make money, now that they are mostly all owned by huge parent corporations instead of rich, book-loving, old-money philanthropists. Their boards of directors want to see dividends paid to shareholders. That's what capitalism is all about.

But by creating a platform that requires retailers to pay such a high toll, Apple has gone one step farther. Apple has made their platform pretty much inherently unprofitable for everyone but themselves. It's almost spiteful. Like, “How dare those other vendors sell more content than we do! We'll show them!” And they have. They've shown everybody. When you buy an Apple product, you'd better hope that what you want to use it for is something Apple will let you use it for. And that the books you want to read aren't too naughty for Steve Jobs.



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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
mtlawson
Mar. 10th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
I believe this was the plan from the beginning. If Steve can let people in, use the iPad, and see how wonderful it is, then he can slam the door and make all of the profit for himself. He's betting that people will abandon their eReaders because Apple has them by the kahunas.

When the other companies pull out, Steve can say that they don't want competition on his platform. If they stay, they lose money to Steve. Very clever, really, because he's counting on the fanbois to win for him.
karen_w_newton
Mar. 10th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, well my husband is going to be annoyed if he can't read his Kindle books on his iPad, but he still has a Kindle to read them on, so it's not like he's stuck. Other folks will have to a) abandon their Kindle book collection or b) read on some other device, like a PC or a phone.

I really think this why Random House finally went with agency pricing; iBooks uses only agency, and they were looking ahead and assuming iBooks would be the only eReader app on the iPad. Which it might well be
mtlawson
Mar. 10th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
Given Steve's and Apple's history of having completely closed systems, Random House's guess was a very knowledgeable one.

The iPad isn't good for reading, as Amazon is fond of pointing out, but that won't faze Apple. Of course, Steve will tell you that books are going to evolve, and "people don't read books anyway".
karen_w_newton
Mar. 10th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
Personally, I love my Kindle, but there are people who swear by the iPad as an eReader, even with its weight and glare issues. The reason my husband really likes it is the 2-pages-at-a-time view in landscape mode. Of course, the reason he keeps the Kindle handy when he travels or commutes is that it's small enough that it fits in his pocket, so the iPad's size counts both for it and against it. I can fit my Kindle in my purse.

And I am a little annoyed that someone who denigrated reading is trying his best to kill off the ebook competition.
mtlawson
Mar. 10th, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
there are people who swear by the iPad as an eReader, even with its weight and glare issues.

I like our main PC's LCD screen --okay, I wish it were larger, but that goes without saying-- but at the wrong time of day the screen is practically useless because of the angle the sun will hit it. The solution to that is to shut the blinds, but to me that's not much of a solution. Likewise, the iPad is designed to be used indoors or in the shade, which can be a wee bit limiting if you're trying to read on the bus during morning rush hour, for example.

And I am a little annoyed that someone who denigrated reading is trying his best to kill off the ebook competition.

Steve's comment is akin to the old Aesop's fable about the fox and the grapes. Since the iPad has a weakness --the glare issue-- Steve is basically acting like the fox in decrying sour grapes. The thing is, that's a purely emotive response and it gives you a bigger window into Steve's soul than any of the slick presentations he's done.
karen_w_newton
Mar. 10th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
That Aesop guy knew a thing or two about human nature.
a_r_williams
Mar. 10th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
::nods::

That "People don't read books" quote annoys me to no end. But yet, they'll try and take money from people who sell books by adding an iTax!
karen_w_newton
Mar. 10th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
iTax! I like it!
darke_conteur
Mar. 10th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I will not be purchasing ANY APPLE product. Ever.
karen_w_newton
Mar. 10th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Well, I wouldn't go that far. My daughter is in graphic design so she pretty much ash to have a Mac. But they seem much less rigid about their desktop and even laptop products.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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