Audible Pulls In-app Purchases from iPhone

| News

Audible has pulled its in-app purchase option from the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch instead of sharing 30 percent of sales from the feature with Apple. The audio book seller also sent out an email to subscribers add home page links to a Shop Audible Web site.

The workaround lets Audible avoid revenue sharing with Apple, although it adds extra steps for subscribers that want to download new audio books since they have to leave the Audible app and visit a Web site. Previously, subscribers could tap a shopping button in the Audible application to find new books to download.

Audible Web shopAudible’s answer to in-app purchases

Apple’s policy requires publishers to share 30 percent of in-app sales and subscriptions, which didn’t sit well with some magazines, news papers and other subscription services. Some companies pulled their apps from Apple’s App Store, others complied with the policy, and some — like Audible — simply dropped in-app purchase support.

“We’d like to update you on a change to the Audible application that affects the way that you access the Audible mobile store,” Audible told subscribers in an email. “In order to comply with recent policy changes by Apple, we’ve removed the ‘Shop’ link from within the app that opened your web browser and took you to the Audible mobile store.”

Audible chose to take advantage of a feature that’s been available on the iPhone since it was first introduced that lets users add Web site bookmarks as icons to their home screen. When users tap the bookmark button, the Audible shopping Web site opens as if it were an app.

The end result is that Audible gets to keep the 30 percent it would otherwise have to pay to Apple, and subscribers now have to go through extra steps to purchase audio books on their iOS devices.

The Audible app is free and available at Apple’s iTunes-based App Store.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

Do they have any exclusive titles?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apple is going to have to change this eventually, probably by allowing in-app purchases for content to bypass its store. The only person left in the world who doesn’t see Apple’s approach as a hold-up is our very own Nemo.

The question is timing. It can’t look like they were just waiting for Steve to pass on before hitting command-Z on some of his most ridiculous policies. I give it December.

BurmaYank

They’ll be back (to Apple’s 30% In-App Purchases).

NetFlix came back (to its original single-logon Qwikster-less service), and Audible (& many of those other prodigal subscriptions) will need to come back, too (because of similar marketing realities in the coming year/s).

“The only person left in the world who doesn?t see Apple?s approach as a hold-up is our very own Nemo.”

Shouldn’t I feel offended that you have forgotten about me and so many others of your loyal opposition here - How could you have forgotten about us?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Forget the 30%, BurmaYank. Has Apple yet made it feasible to upload and maintain a catalog of 30,000 in-app purchase items? Do they share account information in a way that content providers who provide access to a library can allow users to access content on other devices such as their PCs, TVs, or non-Apple mobile devices?

I can see loving the Apple content ghetto as a shareholder, but that’s still recognizing the policy for what it is. But Nemo is the guy who takes it to a whole nuther level by thinking Apple is the only company to trust with his credit card information and purchasing history, when the company repeatedly brags about how many credit cards it has on file. No offense meant in the omission, believe me.

craigf

Please don’t quote the resident monomaniacal troll. Some of us are doing our best to ignore him and focus on the rational comments that still predominate on this forum.

Don’t even respond to his trolling. As with an annoying child, your attention only inflates his sense of self-importance and encourages him to post additional obnoxiousness.

Thanks.

Substance

Don?t even respond to his trolling. As with an annoying child, your attention only inflates his sense of self-importance and encourages him to post additional obnoxiousness.

Agreed on all counts.  I’ve blocked Bosco’s/Brad Hutchings’ comments for months now.  My blood pressure has gone down since then. 

It’s one thing to call out over-exuberant Apple fanboy-ism when you see it, and it’s another to consistently be one of the first posters on any article on a Mac-centric site where you can cry foul over Apple’s actions.  One is called keeping it real and the other is desperate posturing for attention.  Please don’t give him the attention.

Peter

It can?t look like they were just waiting for Steve to pass on before hitting command-Z on some of his most ridiculous policies.

At risk of sounding the fanboy, I sometimes wonder about equating all of these things to Steve Jobs.

Realistically, Steve was pretty well out of the company when many of these policies came about.

So, no, I don’t believe these policies will change, which is unfortunate.

I?ve blocked Bosco?s/Brad Hutchings? comments for months now.  My blood pressure has gone down since then.

Yeah, I hate it when people bring up valid complaints that interfere with my world view.  If we could all just agree that everything Apple does is good and everything that everyone else does is bad, the world would be a much simpler place.

Note the sarcasm.

Nemo

It costs Apple about $100 million per month to run its iTunes Stores; that is about $1.2 billion per year, yet some vendors and publishers and Bosco are of the opinion that they should be able to use the iTunes stores’ infrastructure for free without paying anything to defray Apple’s costs of operating its App Store and other iTunes stores.

And, if that proposition wasn’t sufficiently absurd, grossly unfair to Apple, and economically unsustainable, these same vendors want to pay nothing for the right to be present and market in an online store, the App Store, that has one of the most attractive demographics in all of retail, which consist of users who have plenty of discretionary income, the willingness to pay for quality apps, and who will be purchasing apps and other products presented to them in-app.  So in addition to paying nothing to cover the costs of operating the App Store, these vendors want to pay nothing to be able to sale in the most exclusive prime online real estate on the Web.

And we are not done.  For, in addition to the foregoing, Apple provides the billing and accounting services, and makes certain the vendor gets his check for 70%.

Yet we may ask is Apple charging the vendors a King’s ransom in asking for 30% of sales for what it provides?  No, it is not, because, as evidenced by Apple’s SEC docs, the 30% that it charges just covers running the App Store and other iTunes stores at slightly above breakeven, and the iTunes stores are among the most cost efficient online retailers on the Web.

Now, it may be that a few others can do better for themselves than what Apple is offering.  If that be so, then let them go.  But for the others, you are getting a bargain that is among the best available, if not the best available, for the value that Apple provides.  If that isn’t good enough for you, then you need to go into the drug trade.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Oh FFS Nemo. #1 Audible doing in-app purchases with their own system imposes nothing on Apple’s App Store infrastructure. #2 Audible doing an end run around Apple’s hold up earns Apple exactly $0.00 anyway. #3 Because I didn’t read your whole post but just know you had to go there, Google’s developer TOS do not for Market do not require developers or content providers to use its and only its in-app purchasing scheme. It’s there for those who want to use it.

Finally, anyone care to answer my question about whether it is actually feasible to enter and maintain a catalog of 30K items for in-app purchase through Apple? Because in June as the “deadline” loomed, it most certainly was not. I haven’t bothered to check if that’s actually changed because I really didn’t ever believe that Apple wanted any of the big players to take them up on it. They just wanted them off the platform or conveniently crippled.

Nemo

And dear Bosco:  I don’t trust; I read contracts.  And Apple’s privacy policy is far more protective, though not perfect, of my privacy than Google, Facebook, Amazon, and their ilk. 

And as for sharing users’ private data, Apple is the least restrictive of companies, as it completely removes it self from that transaction, except for this:  Apple requires that you go directly to the user and obtain his informed consent for the acquisition and use of his personal data.  You, as vendor/developer, don’t have to consult with Apple at all, nor must you, as is true for Google, Facebook, Amazon, et al., negotiate and provide valuable consideration, money or something else of value, to get access to a user’s personal data.  So the only thing that certain vendor/developers are complaining about, when it comes to users’ data, is having to ask users’ for their informed consent to acquire and use their personal data. 

Now, I wonder why that is? Could they be ashamed of their respective privacy policies?  Well, shame is a price that these vendor/developers easily pay for profits, so I doubt that it is shame.  It is that Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their ilk, unlike Apple, deprive a user of access to nearly all of their services, if he says no to their respective privacy policies.  I know, because I’ve tried.  Saying no to Google means that you get an Android phone that is pretty much a brick and limited use of Google’s other services; say no to Facebook, and you can’t even get on its website; say no to Amazon, and you won’t be making any purchases on its website.  But say no to Apple?  Well, there isn’t any saying no to Apple as such but to the individual vendor/developer, and if you say no to him, you may not be able to use his app or services, but your iOS device will continue to work just fine.  Even if you say no to an iTunes account, though you won’t be able to make purchases on Apple’s App Store or other iTunes stores, you iPhone and its built-in apps will otherwise work just fine. 

So with Apple saying no is particularized no to an individual developer, but saying no to Google and its ilk is essentially saying no to significant use of their goods and/or services.  Thus, with Google and its ilk, the developer gets a lot more leverage to force you say yes instead of no.  And that is what Bosco and certain developers find so objectionable about how Apple permits access to its user/customers’ personal data, not that Apple forbids such access.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

#4 Audible doing an end-run around Apple for in-app purchases means customers don’t get the advantage you claim that Apple offers on the privacy front anyway.

Nemo, I’m just looking at how effective this brain-dead policy is. It accomplishes nothing other than to artificially make non-Apple content cumbersome to acquire.

Nemo

Bosco:  Your comments are patent nonsense and demonstrably false as a matter of common sense.  For every, app or other product or service in Apple’s iTunes stores, Apple most provision server capacity, space for the servers, pay for bandwidth, pay for electricity, pay for database software and other software license, hire and pay the engineers and other professional to keep it all running, and for proprietary goods be responsible for preventing piracy, develop the entire infrastructure of successful iOS and OS X devices and developer tools and developer support, pre-screening apps for malware, and all the sundry other things to make one of the most vast server retail operations work with no—I can’t think of an instance—reported downtime.  While anyone vendor may not cost much, Apple’s commission must apply to all or apply to none, and if applied to none, Apple should not be required, nor could it be required, to sustain $1.2 billion in operating costs, just so a bunch of jerk developers can have a business model, where they get their serve infrastructure, payments and settlement system, and access to the best customers on the Internet for free.

The rest of your post barely deserves the dignity of comment.  As I’ve shown you many times in the express language of Google’s TOS, unless it has recently changed, Google’s TOS requires a 30% commission for all sale in the Android Market.  The only exception that I could find are some rumored but never announced or officially acknowledged special deals for certain developers.  The only other exception is to abandon the Market altogether and either go to side-loading or to an alternative online Market, such as Amazon, but Amazon also charges a commission of 30% for most things.

As for Audible’s end run, if providing its own website and other infrastructure is a better deal for it, then that is fine.  There are a few others, very few, for whom that will also be true.  Those few should certainly go their own way, rather than insisting that Apple incur heavy losses so that they can make profits.

Nemo

Well, Bosco, once an app is off the App Store, Apple has no control over it and nothing to say about it.  So I don’t get your point.  Audible is off the App Store and so can determine its privacy policy as it likes, subject only to the requirements of the law.  Apple can only enforce and is only responsible for its privacy policy on its App Store, not everywhere else on the Web.

And I guess that Apple’s App Store commission of 30% and privacy policy are a failures, as it only has 500,000 plus apps on its App Store, minus Audible.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

OK, Nemo. Let’s just reset the facts here and then we can continue the discussion. I know this stuff is confusing.

1. The Audible.com app is still on the App Store.

2. The previous Audible.com app had in-app purchasing of Audible.com content delivered by Audible.com’s web site.

3. The new Audible.com app has no in-app purchasing, instead relying on the user to get to the Audible site in a web browser to make their purchases.

4. To facilitate the new purchasing arrangement, Audible.com has a very easy way to add a link to their store onto one of your home screens.

5. For Audible to have kept in-app purchasing, they would have had to do two things:
(a) agree to Apple taking 30% commission.
(b) list all of their products and prices in Apple’s in-app purchasing system, and update that system as prices and products change. As recently as June, that was a damn near impossible task with just hundreds of products, by all accounts.

Now, continue on…

Nemo

And so now, Audible, without in-app purchasing, is one of the many free apps that Apple supports and provisions from its own purse.  However, Audible must now have and pay for its own payment and settlement system, its own servers and attendant infrastructure and other costs.  Since Apple must pay for all those free apps, such as Audbile’s app, it is abundantly clear why Apple must charge 30% commission to those who generate revenues from their apps on its App Store simply to run at breakeven, and thus, Apple pretty much provides access to the App Store’s superior demographic and marketing for free to both free apps and paid apps, as the 30% commission for paid apps only covers slightly more than Apple’s costs of operation.  That is a damn fine deal for paid apps and an even better one for free apps. 

So it sounds to me like Audible is getting a heck of a good deal by being on the App Store with its free app, if it can afford the costs of its own servers, marketing, payment system, etc. and its website can attract user who can and will spend at least as much as those on the App Store.  Now most, as evidenced by Apple 500,000 plus apps on the App Store, can’t do that, but, as I said, supra, if Audible can, they should. 

However, if Audible finds that it miscalculated and, thus, after accounting for additional costs of its operations, that life was better on the App Store, it can pay Apple its 30% commission and come back.  But if Audible is happy with its new arrangement, good for it, and Apple will hardly miss it.

Nemo

Goodnight.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

However, Audible must now have and pay for its own payment and settlement system, its own servers and attendant infrastructure and other costs.?

Um, no. They have all along. But other than that, you make a wonderful squeegie-boy argument. I bought this squeegie and have spent all day standing in traffic, so you will pay me when I clean your windows without asking.

Nemo, you really don’t get the facts of this, do you?

Scott

Try snappii service, make your own mobile apps! Easy, fast, without programming!

Substance

Yeah, I hate it when people bring up valid complaints that interfere with my world view.  If we could all just agree that everything Apple does is good and everything that everyone else does is bad, the world would be a much simpler place.

Yeah, I hate it when people don’t read my posts through and instead twist its meaning to fit with their world view.  If people could just read, think, and understand before acting, the world would me a much simpler place.

No sarcasm here.

jaundice

Nemo please come back. This is so awesome.

Nemo

While Bosco is correct that Audible has had its own website to sell its wares with the attendant costs, Audible has not had to provisions for the customers’ business that had been done on the App Store.  Now Audible must provision that business, and that must necessarily increase its costs, or at least Audible desperately hopes so, because the only way that it could be otherwise is that none of Audible’s App Store customers take their custom to Audible’s website.  So Audible’s abandonment of in-app purchasing on the App Store will either be an unmitigated disaster, or Audible will see a dramatic increase in its costs, as it accommodates the former App Store Customers on its website.

Now, I don’t know whether, after accounting for those increased costs, Audible will be worse off or better off than it would have been if it had paid Apple’s 30% commission and kept in-app purchasing in its App Store app, thus avoiding the costs of those new customers on its website. But one thing is clear:  If any significant number of Audible’s App Store customers move their purchases to Audible’s website, Audible’s costs will correspondingly increase, notwithstanding that Audible already does business on its website.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, point of reference and clarification. I’m a semi-regular Audible customers. Not a subscriber, I just buy a la carte. I can buy both off their web site and through the app on my Android phone. None of the “provisioning” involves the Apple App Store. Prior to this change to the Audible app on iOS, things worked the same way there. The app accessed their store without any “provisioning” help from Apple.

Now, you actually came close to making a legitimate point we can argue about last night. And that legitimate point is that since Audible distributes their app for free through the App Store, that Apple might be entitled to some compensation. Like I said, it’s a legitimate opinion that I disagree with. For one thing, a large competitor, Google, does not ask for more than token compensation. What is it, a $25 sign up fee? Another thing, the marginal cost of delivering each copy of the app is ridiculously low. And Apple does benefit by having these various media brands and staple apps available on its devices. Those are probably a wash.

But your second paragraph cost analysis is off because Audible customers didn’t use Apple’s in-app purchasing in the first place.

Nemo

So Audible wasn’t using in-app purchasing but was benefiting by being on the App Store, that is, by having access to the customers that Apple acquired with its devices and its marketing, and as I explained last night, though the marginal costs for any one app may be small, if all paid apps also don’t pay any commission to Apple, Apple is out a cool $1.2 billion dollars, so of course Apple told Audible either pay up or do your own marketing on your own website to acquire your own customers, and, so that we treat everyone of our developers on the App Store fairly, either be a free app that doesn’t generate any revenue from the App Store, with Apple subsidizing the costs of such free apps, or, as a paid app, pay our 30% commission as does every other revenue-generating app, service, and/or product in the App Store.  Please do that so that we can breakeven on the App Store and not have to eat $1.2 billion dollars in operating costs.

Well, Audible chose to be a free app.  So what’s the big deal.  That is what Audible thinks is in its best interest.  And Apple is getting what it wants according to its policy:  It subsidizes Audible’s free app, while having Audible in the App Store for its customers.

The bottom line is that no retailer, online or off, runs his store for free, incurring losses while the vendors take all the revenues from sales.  So why should Apple be the one retailer to do so?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I do find the implied metaphor of Apple as the Hari Krishnas of the computer market kinda funny. Here is a gift, you can list your app in our App Store. Oh, you sell your own content with that app. Well, we do so much for you, it would be fair and just for you to give us 30% and list all of that content in our system that can only realistically accommodate a few hundred items. Well, don’t go away mad, girl. Just go away.

One other thing for you Nemo. Do you know who supplies the audiobooks in the iTunes Store? Look at the bottom of the “Advanced” menu in iTunes. This one has nothing to do with a developer being unwilling to give Apple a slice.

mhikl

Sorry Craig, but you have to give up that dream. The troll?s persistent devotees can?t help their addiction. For the most part, the troll and its train, just regurgitate their same arguments. There are only so many stores to its spiel and only so many ways to spin. The cool part is that the troll abuses its disciples and yet they keep coming back for more. You gotta love the logic.

But back to the real world. Their culture is strange and unfathomable to the Apple interested, so the best you can do is choose ignore member for the culpable, too. When you see many blocked comments, you know the topic has been hijacked so you pass-by their hoopla.

The followers do not appreciated their actions. TMO needs hits?which means more members and visitors?to pay the bills and their clique may be a detriment to the future of this site. Most normal people have enough stress in their day and don?t need it visited upon them when they wish only a relaxing read on a favoured subject.

There are many excellent sites, many culled from Particle Debris?sadly missed this week?, that are stimulating, informative and exhilarating. Ironically, this little problem got me off my duff and has broadened my pickings to the point TMO is now the last site I visit, if I have the time and energy. (I?ll post you my list of favs. To start with, http://daringfireball.net/) ?now there?s a guy who thinks.

Note: one of the troll?s tricks is to post under pseudo names*, at times posting as a disgruntled Apple product user or former user. They he answers. These are non-member posts and, unfortunately can?t be ignore membered. The troll followees know this but are afraid to point this out and upset the Apple troll.
* mifd118, peter or letter jumbles, to not a few.

Another thought. What if every member, who feels the same about the troll, reported everything it posted as inappropriate. Would TMO get the point? But then non-member posts would have to go they byway. Now this would make an interesting ?forums? discussion topic.

Now on to world peace.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m surprised mhikl hasn’t figured out the Nemo and I are, actually, get this, twins.

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