During a hearing on the antitrust judicial commission of the Chamber of the United States, regulators have issued a series of internal email to Apple. Among these, there are some messages that provide new details on the long battle of Apple and Amazon to allow in-app purchase of e-books in the Kindle app.
Today, theKindle app for the iPhone and iPad does not allow users to directly buy the e-book. Users can read the digital books that they have already purchased, but in order to buy new ones directly on the iPhone must exit the app and use Safari. This is also a way for Amazon to avoid the payment of 30% is required by Apple for every in-app purchase.
Few remember, however, that, until the early months of 2011, it was possible to purchase e-books directly from the Kindle app on iOS without commissions, and today we have more details, including a series of conversations between Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller and other executives of the company regarding this situation.
In an e-mail, Schiller explained that Apple had initially made an exception for Amazon, allowing her to sell books on the Kindle app without paying commissions “because the users would have purchased the books on a Kindle device and then read those books on your iPhone“. However, when Apple started to depend much more from the sales of the iPhone, the situation has changed and the same Schiller felt that it was time to leave that treatment of meaning.
Specifically, what has led Schiller to change the idea is that Amazon began to publish a series of advertisements on how to access “to the Kindle books if you switch from iPhone to Android or vice versa“. In an e-mail, Schiller writes:
I just saw a new ad of app Amazon Kindle on TV. Starts with a woman using an iPhone and buy and read books with the Kindle app. The woman then switches to an Android phone and read all his books. While the main message is that there are Kindle app on many mobile devices, the secondary message not to be underestimated is that it is easy to switch from iPhone to Android. It is not fun to watch.
In a separate e-mail, Schiller declares:
I think that we should tell Amazon that, on the basis of their TV ads, it is clear that the use of their app now violates our terms and guidelines and that they have to use our system of in-app purchase also for the sales of digital books. We should ask them to come back to us with a plan on how to update their apps in accordance with our rules.
On the basis of past discussions, I expect that they can decide not to do it. We should probably decide whether to delete the Kindle app from the store or if you continue to allow an exception to our terms and guidelines for the Kindle app.
This email exchange happened while Apple was planning the announcement of new policies on the App Store for subscriptions. In his response, Steve Jobs said that Apple would be able to say that “Amazon must use our payment system for all its activities in the Kindle app, and that the change is made necessary by the new policies of subscription to newspapers and magazines. If they want to deal with Android, force them to use our payment system is far superior. It is time to use our payment mechanism, or that they go away“.
I think it is all quite simple: iBooks will be the only virtual library on iOS devices. We have to keep the head high. You can read books purchased elsewhere, but this procedure is hardly intuitive.
In short, without those advertisements, probably today we could still buy books in the Kindle app on iOS. Of course, we cannot know if Apple would have continued to offer that exception to the Amazon, as in part done with the First Video.