Google Books exits App Store as Apple cracks down on in-app purchases

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Both e-book retailer Kobo and The Wall Street Journal will no longer sell content directly to consumers via their iOS applications, indicating that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is beginning to actively enforce recent App Store subscription guidelines prohibiting media providers from integrating in-app purchase options linking consumers directly to their own websites. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has removed its Google Books e-reader solution from the App Store inventory.

Google Books for iPhone

Google removed its Google Books e-reader solution from the App Store inventory.

Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis said Apple told the firm Saturday it may no longer operate its digital bookstore from within its branded iOS applications and must stop selling e-books directly through the solutions. Kobo complied, updating the app to remove sales options; iOS device users who wish to buy Kobo titles must now visit the company's website via the browser. The Wall Street Journal, which was circumventing Apple's rules by including website links inside its iPad app, will also eliminate all purchase options, meaning consumers who download the app and wish to subscribe to the digital publication must either call customer service or visit WSJ.com.

"We remain concerned that Apple's own subscription [rules] would create a poor experience for our readers, who would not be able to directly manage their WSJ account or to easily access our content across multiple platforms," a Journal spokesperson said. Apple declined to comment.

Apple introduced the App Store subscription platform in mid-February. Publishers immediately expressed serious reservations over the terms of the service, which awarded Apple 30 percent of subscription revenues, as well as ownership of consumer data like names and email addresses. Some smaller developers even scrapped their iOS application plans. Apple quietly updated the guidelines in June, removing all pricing guidelines and giving content providers the freedom to offer in-app subscriptions at any price they wish.

"Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content," reads section 11.14 of the revised App Store Subscriptions agreement. "Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app." Apple set a June 30 deadline to comply to the rule.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article

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