The first of the big name e-book reading apps has removed links to its external e-bookstore in order to conform with Apple's recently implemented App Store policy.
Borders, which has has had its e-book offering on the App Store for more than a year, today updated its application to completely remove the built-in Kobo bookstore browser, while noting that it had made the change to be "complaint with the new in app purchase rules."
The now-removed feature let users view content from Kobo's store within the app, then buy it in the Safari browser. Now the application simply directs users to migrate everything to Kobo's e-reading app, which continues to run the very same store that was cut out of the Borders app. Presumably this means a similar store cut from Kobo is just around the corner. CNET reached out to Kobo several times last week to see if that was the case, and the company did not return requests for comment.
Worth noting is that Borders Group filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in February, and recently announced that it would be selling itself to private investment firm Najafi Companies. for $215 million, pending approval.
So why does the feature removal matter, you might be wondering? Apple sent a note to publishers shortly after announcing its subscription program in February, reportedly setting June 30 as a deadline for altering apps with links to outside stores to conform to the new terms of service at the risk of being removed. The three and a half months in-between were considered "a grace period" for developers with apps that violated the new rules to make any necessary changes to remain compliant.
Nonetheless, the deadline came and went without any tweaks from major e-reader players like Amazon, Stanza, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The day after, Macworld reported that the deadline was simply "a rough target" and that Apple was still working with developers to get changes made. This change would suggest others are soon to follow.
As part of those rules, Apple has the right to reject "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."
The rules change is largely to get app makers to use Apple's in-app purchase system for selling virtual goods. Under that system, Apple gets a 30 percent cut, which would have been entirely mandatory with the deadline if the company had not relented to allow app makers to sell digital goods outside of their software. That decision means app developers can avoid that 30 percent cut, just as long as users cannot be led to the external point of purchase through the app. Since the change, a number of magazine and newspaper publishers have fallen in line, while others like BeamItDown and the Financial Times have bucked the trend, instead choosing to abandon Apple's platform.
Currently Amazon's Kindle app on both the iPhone and iPad still feature a link to the company's store that opens up in the Safari browser. The same behavior continues to exist in e-Book reading apps from Barnes & Noble, Stanza, and aforementioned Kobo app.