Apple has rejected Sony's Reader for iPhone application, with the New York Times [subscription required] reporting that Apple now insists that from now on all in-app purchases must go through its own systems. According to the report, developers have been told that they can "no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store." It's unclear at this stage what this means to existing titles, like Amazon's Kindle app, which allows users to load ebooks bought on other Kindle devices or software into the iPad version.
Currently, ebook purchases made for Kindle on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad are made not using Apple's in-app purchase system - which would see Amazon handing over a 30-percent tithe on all transactions - but by loading up the Amazon store page in the browser. New titles can then be downloaded in the Kindle app itself; alternatively, all ebooks purchased from Amazon are accesible in a cloud store, even if they were not bought in the iOS browser.
It seems that Apple is changing the rules, however, so as to ensure that it gets a share of the purchase action in future. A similar push was reported back in January, when magazine and newspaper publishers were told that they would no longer be allowed to bundle inclusive digital access to iOS versions of their content with a print subscription.
According to a Sony statement, the company is "exploring other avenues to bring the Reader experience to Apple mobile devices" but has "reached an impasse at this time":
Reader for iPhone
We would like to update everyone on the status of our Reader™ for iPhone® mobile application. We created an app that we’re very excited about, which includes all the features you’ve come to expect from a mobile reading application – including access to your existing collection, synching with your Reader Daily Edition™ and purchasing new content as is possible on other mobile platforms.
Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader™ for iPhone® from being available in the app store. We opened a dialog with Apple to see if we can come up with an equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this time. We’re exploring other avenues to bring the Reader experience to Apple mobile devices. We know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the application and we appreciate your continued patience.