Apple blocks Sony e-book app. Is Kindle next?

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Apple is tightening its App Store policies on e-books -- a move that has the stalled the release of Sony's e-reader app and threatens trouble ahead for Amazon's popular Kindle app.

The New York Times reported Monday night that Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) had rejected Sony's Reader app for the iPhone because users would make their purchases in a browser rather than Apple's in-app payments system -- cutting Apple out of the sales stream.

Sony (SNY) said in a prepared statement that it has "opened a dialog with Apple" but has "reached an impasse at this time."

A note posted on its website fills customers in on the dispute: "Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules," Sony wrote.

Other e-reader apps -- including those for Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook -- open up Web browser windows when users wish to purchase e-books. It's unclear whether those apps, which are already available in Apple's App Store, will be affected by Apple's apparent clampdown.

Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) and Barnes & Noble (BKS, Fortune 500) did not respond to requests for comment.

Apple said in a statement Tuesday that it had "not changed our developer terms or guidelines."

But Apple also signaled that it has decided to interpret its rules more strictly.

"We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase," the company said.

That's a significant change -- and one likely to be controversial with Amazon, which has been aggressively building out its Kindle platform and touting its "read anywhere" portability. The company said last week that Kindle e-books now outpace both its hardcover and paperback sales.

Sony's feud with Apple came to light just as Apple is stepping up its visibility as a player in the media market.

On Wednesday, Apple will participate in News Corp.'s New York launch of its new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. To underpin the new venture, Apple is adapting its App Store model to support recurring subscription payments. The Daily is expected to sell its subscriptions for 99 cents per week.

- Fortune.com's Philip Elmer-DeWitt contributed to this report.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,959.44 154.64 0.87%
Nasdaq 4,781.42 16.04 0.34%
S&P 500 2,078.54 7.89 0.38%
Treasuries 2.16 -0.01 -0.64%
Data as of 7:52pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.90 -15.55 -14.34%
Bank of America Corp... 17.71 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 112.94 1.16 1.04%
General Electric Co 25.71 0.09 0.35%
Facebook Inc 81.45 1.57 1.97%
Data as of 4:00pm ET

Sections

Private equity titan CEO David Rubenstein drops some rhymes in a holiday message to investors. More

Sure you could spend more this holiday, but your better bet is to put the money you save in your 401(k). More

So, North Korea's Internet went down. What is it like anyway? There are PlayStations, XBoxes and a MacBook. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Retired union workers could see their pensions cut under a controversial new law, but many say they're not sure how they'll make ends meet if big cuts go through. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.