Wednesday, May 11, 2011

iFlow Reader shuts down due to Apple's policy on in-app purchases

News this morning about how Apple killed off iFlowReader, an application exclusive on the iOS platform, by changing the rules in the middle of the game doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me are how some Apple apologists have defended Apple's action. Still, no point arguing with them.

Apple succedded in killing off iFlow Reader, an ebook reader/market competitior to their inferior iBook app is by using a very simple means - force the developer to pay 30% of the selling price of any ebooks they sell via the iOS app. This rule also applies to every other developer planning to sell in-app items. The developer of iFlow already makes less than 30% margin on the books they sell from the publishers, so in effect they are actually taking a loss on each books being sold. How is that for a sustainable business model? It wouldn't even surprise me if Apple wants a 30% cut in groceries ordered via Tesco and Sainsbury's app.

Obviously not all blame can dumped onto Apple, however evil and vile they are (and they are, everybody from Steve Jobs to the robot minions in Best Buy blue uniform at the various Apple Stores). The developers of iFlow Reader were wrong to bet everything they have (more than a million US dollars and equity) on a single platform rather than spreading their risk across multiple mobile platforms like Android, Symbian and Windows Phone. They were willing to do so because of blind faith to the Apple brand (just look at how they branded their ebook app), only to get screwed by Steve Jobs.

Moral of the story? Apple are an evil monopolistic company no different from Microsoft were in the 1990s. Do not develop for a single platform. The same applies to any developers in other industry, particularly third party video games developers who decide to develop exclusively for a single console without any monetary compensation from the platform holder.

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