Is this the start of a Mac-lash?
Posted in: Mobile & Wireless at 21/02/2011 21:40
That Apple makes money from apps is not news. But it's the way it works that has hacked off fanboys and disenchanted developers. The Independent's Ian Burrell examines how loyalty has been tested to the limit
Apple is the most respected company in the world, in the eyes of money managers consulted for a poll published this month by Barron's, the influential American financial magazine.
In terms of wealth, it long ago surpassed Microsoft and last month topped PetroChina to become the second most valuable company on earth, trailing only Exxon Mobil. Meanwhile, a survey of young Britons, Project Chatter, revealed last week that the Apple brand was more familiar to them than any other.
And yet never has the business which Steve Jobs has nurtured over the past 35 years had so many enemies - and not just the other technology giants who envy its success. Last week in Barcelona, mobile phone operators lined up to slate Apple for its "walled garden" approach, which requires them to provide the infrastructure for its increasingly luxurious apps without receiving any revenue in return. Then in Berlin, publishers came forward to say how much they liked Google's new One Pass system for charging users for internet access to their content, while others complained about the Apple offering, which was unveiled by Mr Jobs - who's still overseeing the company despite being on medical leave - the day before and demands 30 per cent of all subscriptions sold through its App Store.
"Apple has brilliantly managed to sew us up in this Apple world, but in some ways they are the most rigid authoritarian leader brand. It's our way or the highway with Apple."
To read this report in The Independent in full, see:
Apple is dictating all the terms - and we shouldn't have to accept them
Once, the currency of wisdom seemed to consist in knowing who one's father was. Latterly, in these business obsessed times, knowing your own customers seems to have become more important. Which, of course, was the promise of the internet for harassed newspaper owners. So much for the anonymous news stand buyers - the future, instead, would consist of joyous readers in a harmonious (and more profitable) relationship with publishers, their contact information visible for the first time. Plus, readers would probably be prepared to pay as much or almost as much as in the costly ink-on-dead-trees era.
Then, along came Apple, and we've all been feeling post-lapsarian ever since. Last week, the computer giant decided to reread its terms of service for publishers bold enough to be part of its iPad/iPhone experience. Lest there had been any doubt - Apple wants 30% of the revenue from any subscriber signed up through its App Store and it will hang on to the customer information, thank you very much. Oh, and as Josh Halliday reports , if you are on the App Store, you are not allowed to offer cut-price services via another platform. Hmm.
There are other questions about Apple's dominance. Apple has made it hard for some content creators to get their work on to its App Store. For example, the American satirical cartoonist Mark Fiore found his work rejected because "it ridicules public figures". He only got on to the App Store last year after winning a Pulitzer Prize and a mini-media outcry. Not everybody, though, can do that to get past Apple's move into content censorship.
No longer the Apple of publishers' eye
Apple's move to take a greater share of cash from newspaper app subscriptions may instead allow Google to take a bite
There was a time, not so long ago, when Apple was heralded as the saviour of the publishing industry. Steve Jobs's company would miraculously convince a generation to pay for online news. Its "Jesus tablet", the iPad, would be so popular with consumers that they would be seduced into paying for a new generation of publishers' apps.
That was until last week, when Apple's relationship with the media industry came to a head. With a new set of terms and conditions for digital subscriptions, described as "brazen" by one national newspaper executive, publishers' inherent wariness towards the company quickly turned into a deep mistrust.