How Apple Handicapped The Amazon Kindle App

Unsurprisingly, Apple wants its e-commerce experience to be the only seamless one available on the iPhone–and, soon, on the iPad. Business Insider ran a surprising article today about how Apple made things much harder for Amazon and other competitors who also sell digital goods. Basically, Apple won’t let any company but itself sell digital goods (like music, and, once iBooks launches, eBooks) inside an app–everyone but Apple has to link out to Safari. If you’ve ever used the Kindle iPhone app, you know about this little hassle, and you’ve wished you could just get your Kindle books using one app.

The most interesting detail the BI article points out is that Amazon originally submitted with Kindle app with an in-app e-commerce solution, and Apple rejected it and told them to scrap the in-app purchasing. Here’s a bit more from the article: “it’s okay to use an iPhone app to buy physical goods — as you can in Amazon’s main iPhone app, or the Fandango app, etc. And developers are welcome to use Apple’s in-app purchasing system — and give a 30% cut of revenue to Apple — to sell digital goods within apps.” Obviously, Amazon would rather keep its 30% and trust users to link out to Safari and buy their eBooks.

But, once iPad and iBooks launch, Apple will have its own seamless way to sell eBooks. Whether Kindle users stick with the Kindle app on the iPad will depend on a handful of things (it will be very cool, truthfully, to have access to Kindle books on a large-screen Apple product), including Amazon’s ability to keep the price of eBooks down, and whether Apple can match Amazon’s selection. Whatever happens, Apple remains the coolest tyrant around.