Amazon finds loophole around Apple's walled garden

Apple’s strength, as well as its weakness, is the “walled garden” they maintain around their products. Under normal circumstances, users can only install applications directly from iTunes. In addition, any company that sells something on an iOS device is required to send a hefty 30 percent of the gross revenue to Apple, an amount that caused many developers to complain. Direct access to Amazon’s library of MP3s, for example, has been off-limits to people who use Apple products.

According to the LA Times, it looks like Amazon has found a way to sidestep these restrictions. Instead of creating an app in the iTunes store, they’ve launched a mobile version of their MP3 store. Using Safari, customers can browse and purchase music and play it on their iPhone, iPad, or any other device they own, all without restriction. This move could save customers a lot of money since, unlike Apple, Amazon frequently has deep discounts on their music. Once the music is purchased, it can be played with the Amazon Cloud Player (available via iTunes). We’re sure many people already used a computer to purchase music from Amazon and import it into iTunes. This move just makes it much simpler for non-technical users to gain access to the store.

Whether this will have a big impact on Apple’s music sales remains to be seen, but nobody can argue that Amazon has done an amazing job making music easier to access. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Apple does in response to this change.

Source: LA Times | Walled Garden via Shutterstock

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28 Comments

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Which profits? Apple makes their profits on hardware sales.

They've said before in official earnings calls that they run the iTunes side of things at close to break even.

This is great, but it's a shame that the Cloud Player app isn't native to the iPad. They only have an iPhone version so of course it looks like crap on the Retina iPad. Hoping they will address this. All of their other apps have iPad native versions. Only the Cloud Player does not.

I do know about the web-based version, but I am more looking for a native app.

It is not a loophole:

11.13

Apps that link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app, such as a “buy” button that goes to a web site to purchase a digital book, will be rejected
*
11.14

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. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app

Stetson said,
Thanks, that pretty much clears it all up. I'm sure they'll update the article with this information any minute now...

I lolled.

Brony said,
It is not a loophole:

you're "reading it wrong"

In other news, Apple adds amendment 11.15 to fix bug in previous T&C's

This article is really weird, like Apple for sure would block this if they could.

Apple has said from the beginning that they encourage people to make web based apps for iOS devices.

The reason they insist on the 30% cut of in-app purchases in the app store is because otherwise all apps would be free with an in-app purchase to unlock the features. Since Apple wouldn't get a cut of that, they would then end up having to run all of the app store servers and other infrastructure at a loss.

Amazon selling music through a web app costs Apple nothing in terms of support, bandwidth, or staff, so why would Apple care?

Stetson said,
This article is really weird, like Apple for sure would block this if they could.

Apple has said from the beginning that they encourage people to make web based apps for iOS devices.

The reason they insist on the 30% cut of in-app purchases in the app store is because otherwise all apps would be free with an in-app purchase to unlock the features. Since Apple wouldn't get a cut of that, they would then end up having to run all of the app store servers and other infrastructure at a loss.

Amazon selling music through a web app costs Apple nothing in terms of support, bandwidth, or staff, so why would Apple care?

Careful. There's no such thing as logic when people badmouth Apple.

Stetson said,
....
Amazon selling music through a web app costs Apple nothing in terms of support, bandwidth, or staff, so why would Apple care?
Apple patented "rounded corners" and "swipe to unlock".
Need anyone say much else?

Stetson said,
This article is really weird, like Apple for sure would block this if they could.

Apple has said from the beginning that they encourage people to make web based apps for iOS devices.

The reason they insist on the 30% cut of in-app purchases in the app store is because otherwise all apps would be free with an in-app purchase to unlock the features. Since Apple wouldn't get a cut of that, they would then end up having to run all of the app store servers and other infrastructure at a loss.

Amazon selling music through a web app costs Apple nothing in terms of support, bandwidth, or staff, so why would Apple care?

So I can just make an app circumventing the App Store for my in-app purchases so it doesn't cost Apple anything, right?

FISKER_Q said,

So in other words, no.

Right. You can't make an app that costs Apple in the form of hosting the original app, but then links directly to an external site for you to make money. I think that's somewhat fair.

If the Amazon Cloud Player goes, then technically you'd have to nuke Dropbox, Skydrive, etc. for having the ability to listen to music and watch videos stored on your accounts. So long as they don't include a direct link to amazon.com/mp3 in the Cloud Player app itself then the app should be safe.

Also: this app isn't on the Canadian app store - US-only store for now probably.

It's not a new loophole of any sort, as this was suggested a while ago as a way for Microsoft to sell Skydrive space on their iOS client as well.

It isn't even a "loophole" of any sort. Its an HTML 5 app. Apple has always held the position that if developers want to circumvent the App Store, the only way around was by developing an "HTML 5 App" (which is a combination of web standard technologies).

The title is sensationalism at its best. Apple is aware and there is nothing for them to "fix" as the article (incorrectly) implies.