Feb 012011

BREAKING: In #iOS 6/#MacOS 11, Web access only thru proxy.apple.com. Analyst: Web pages bypassing IAP a threat to revenue model

With all the recent fuss about Apple’s In-App Purchase (IAP) API enforcement, the train toward Web apps will take up more traction.

Apple themselves are constantly improving Mobile Safari: it supports most of the events that iOS native apps do support, it is fast enough, and you can imitate a native app’a user experience quite well already. Plus: the Web has gotten really interoperable. You can get almost the same user experience with any iOS browser as with any Android browser without the need to develop for different hardware/software platforms.

German weekly Die Zeit already draw the consequences and abandoned the idea of native apps for their main content.

So in the view of the hefty app tax of 30%, will players such as Sony or Amazon offer their libraries as a pure Web site?

Currently it seems as if they may get Apple’s approval for the apps while still being able to sell content separately. Apple interprets its terms such that vendors may offer an alternative purchase path. This path must not be initiatable from within App store, and the vendors must also offer an In-App-Purchase path (probably at the same end user conditions? Apple will surely clarify this matter soon…).

For impulse buyers, the App store point of sales may be more attractive than going to Amazon’s Web site first, purchasing content and then reading it in the Kindle app. But subscribers of electronic magazines or newspapers will already have a well-established relationship with the publisher’s Web site. So they are likely to extend their existing subscription to the iPad version, not via App store but via publisher’s site, download the free app and start reading on the iPad. The publisher won’t have to pay the 30% Apple tax.

In their usual cold My Way Or The Highway manner”, Apple will certainly try to close this hole as soon as significant revenues bypass IAP. If antitrust authorities won’t help Amazon and Sony (for which they’ll have to blame Google because the success of Android kept Apple from monopolizing the smartphone/tablet markets), they’ll most probably step out off the App store and move to pure Web offerings. Optimized for mobile, of course, including caching of content, and with a crisp, app-like look & feel.

What will Apple do then? They certainly won’t discontinue Mobile Safari, the tool that enables these Web apps. For some minutes, they might consider disabling HTML forms so that users won’t be able to log in or submit their credit card data to non-Apple services. But this will really break the Web experience; people wouldn’t accept this, and service providers would find ways to GET around these restrictions.

So the ultimate solution will be à la Chinoise: the great filter, or proxy.apple.com (iWall sounds to obstructive).

In order to improve the quality of service, to filter offensive or explicit content, etc. blah, all traffic will be routed through a content delivery network operated by Apple. Apple reserves the right to disallow connections to servers that host content that is discriminatory, sexually offensive, glorifying violence, …, …, …, and it will block servers that offer transactions bypassing Apple’s then-called iPay system. Since this proxy will be built into the devices’ firmware, only jailbroken devices may circumvent this.

The part of the Internet that will be accessible to Apple users will then be known as the iNet. And I’m sure Apple won’t content themselves with fencing in the mobile crowd. Mac users! Not only will you be allowed to taste the sweet and amazingly low-priced App store fruit, you will also be restricted invited to iNet, which means you will also be forced to use iPay for online purchases. Paypal, Visa, Flattr, invoice? These services violate the terms of use and will be blocked.

I wonder why so many morons surrender to Apple so wholeheartedly, for such a small usability or coolness advantage, if any. But I similarly wondered 15 years ago, when I was advocating Linux against Windows. Now my phone runs Linux, and it’s quite usable.

the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make” (@arubin)

See also:
Mike Cane: The Day Apple Became Nathan Myhrvold (added 2011-02-01 23:25Z)

  One Response to “Next Stop: proxy.apple.com”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Cane and Liz Fong (and Misty), Gerrit Imsieke. Gerrit Imsieke said: #Apple’s quest of fixing in-app purchase holes. Next stop: proxy.apple.com http://bit.ly/h6g5lz #ePrdctn #IAP […]

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