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Apple under siege: Antitrust probes and product delays ...

Will developer backlash be too powerful for Apple this time?

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The issue came to light when Apple barred a Sony ereader application from the iPad and iPhone, because this would have linked to Sony‘s own eBook Store, depriving Apple of its share of the revenue when a consumer purchased a book to read on an iPad. Apple has not yet engaged in the expected face-off with Amazon over the same issue, but may hold back from that to avoid quickening the antitrust bodies' interest further. Last year, it was forced to relax its restrictions on apps created with Adobe Flash following probes by the EU and the US Federal Trade Commission.

Apple sparked publisher fury last week when it introduced its subscription scheme, which could "blow it" with valuable partners, as Forrester Research CEO George Colony put it in a blog post.

Colony thinks that Apple‘s success has gone to its head and it is overpricing subscription fees in iTunes Store, which should be about 5 per cent. "Apple is blowing it," he writes. "This time around, Apple's hostile position could result in a 2014 App internet market that looks something like this: 80 per cent Android, 10 per cent Apple, 10 per cent other."

Responding to complaints by email, Jobs wrote: "Our philosophy is simple: when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 per cent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 per cent and Apple earns nothing.

"All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers."

Digital music service provider Rhapsody issued a statement calling Apple's conditions "economically untenable", adding it will consult with similar companies to determine an appropriate legal and business response. Publishers are also unhappy at Apple's reluctance to share subscriber data.

Copyright © 2011, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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