apple_its_showtimeBut this time it’s not over the latest iPod iteration or another generation-defining device.  Nope, now they’re pissing people off with their new subscription rules.

The facts are these: Consumers can now subscribe to magazines and newspapers through the iTunes App Store.  The pieces were put in place with Newsweek and the Daily, in October and earlier this month respectively.  But now you can subscribe to almost anything, provided the publishers agree to the new regulations.  And the big sticking point for the publishers is that if consumers make the purchase from within the iTunes App Store, Apple takes a 30% cut of the revenue.  If you make the purchase outside the App store, Apple gets nothing.  And the publisher can’t provide a Web site link from within the app.

From a consumer point of view, this changes nothing.  I repeat: This changes nothing.  Apple has always taken 30% from all App Store-generated revenue.  And Apple will always equal or better the price advertised on the publisher’s Web site.

And what, precisely, is wrong with that?  When you purchase an iOS device, you’ve bought into an entire ecosystem that’s practically self-sufficient.  Apple devices are some of the most consumer-friendly devices ever created, and the Apple App Store offers a simple, expeditious way to purchase your entertainment.  I can choose whether or not to give my personal information for publishers to sell off.  If iTunes could become my one-stop venue for all things entertainment, to my benefit, why not?

Well, this is a book blog.  And book-wise, I can’t say I’m terribly worried.  Oh, I know people have been bleating about impending doom, and when Apple rejected the Sony Reader app it seemed to herald a similar demise for the Amazon Kindle app.  Well, first of all, Apple only required Sony to modify their app, in a way that still allows you to read your books purchased elsewhere on the app, so why shouldn’t Apple cut the same deal with Amazon?  But really, I think it comes down to this: Apple is not stupid.

I mean, what’s the worst-case scenario?  Maybe after siccing the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission on Apple, all publishers refuse to play ball, boycott the App Store and go over to Google?  Well, if Apple is dumb enough to let things get that far, then they don’t deserve our business.  And Apple is not dumb.  Besides, I do not believe for one minute that publishers are going to ignore a customer base of 150 million credit cards.

I remember using the Apple IIe in grade school.  Everyone used PCs at home, because PCs were “better.”  Never mind that schools were buying up those rudimentary Macs en masse because the most un-computer-savvy kids could hop on one and get cracking with Oregon Trail in minutes.  Fifteen years later, the iPod – a device that single-handedly made my Discman obsolete.  Then the iPhone.  Now the iPad.  You get the picture: There’s a reason Apple has become the most valuable technology company on the stock market, and it has everything to do with understandings its consumers.

They’re not perfect, and maybe Apple will come out of this wrangle bruised and battered.  But you can bet that they’ll go back to the table, re-evaluate, and kick the pants off everyone next year.

– Jean AAR

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