Apple on Sony: We Haven’t Changed Policies

Sony is claiming its Reader ebook app for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad was rejected by Apple’s App Store over sudden changes in the policies, but Apple is saying that’s not the case. Instead, Apple claimed that its policies are unchanged, but isn’t elaborating on exactly why Sony’s ebook reader app failed to pass the App Store review process.

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Miller told The Mac Observer, then went on to add “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

Apple says in-app purchases go with Web purchases in apps

The take away is that ebook apps can offer purchases outside of the app, but they also need to include an option to purchase content from within the app, too. That stands in contrast to a statement from Steve Haber, Sony’s digital reading division president, that Apple was requiring all purchases to be in-app only.

Earlier today, Sony posted a statement on its Reader ebook Web site stating “Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader for iPhone from being available in the app store.”

With little else to go on, speculation rose that Apple might be trying to block iBookstore competitors and that the company’s actions might push potential customers to dedicated ebook readers instead of the iPad.

Based on Apple’s statement regarding the Sony app situation, it looks more like the company wants to push developers into offering in-app ebook purchases as an option. For publishers, that means even though they offer Web-based purchase mechanisms, they’ll have to include an in-app option — and share 30 percent of those sales with Apple.

Apple didn’t say whether or not the dual purchase option policy applies to magazine publishers as well.

Sony has not responded yet to TMO’s request for a comment.