Thursday, April 8, 2010

What do iBook and iE have in common?

When Apple released the iPad version of iPhone OS, they chose not to include iBooks as one of the base apps of the iPhone OS. I am just wondering if they did this to avoid antitrust issues or just doing the right thing.

Anyone who has been around long enough will remember the world’s most celebrated antitrust suit in the United States. The main gist of this is that Microsoft got sued for bundling the Internet Explorer (IE) browser with the dominant Windows OS was presenting unfair competition for other browser manufacturers. The lawsuit also  argued that giving IE away was an unfair competitive practice against the Netscape browser since Microsoft could still cover IE cost indirectly through Windows pricing. Microsoft argued that IE was an integral part of Windows and that the two could not be separated.

When Apple announced the iPad, it also positioned the tablet as an eBook reader by the announcement that it was coming with iBooks. Many pundits saw that announcement as an Amazon Kindle killer move. So, when Apple decided that iBooks would not be a base app in the OS, I started thinking. (By the way, base apps are those ones that come basically installed with the OS and you can’t delete them).

Some blogger reported that Apple decision to make iBooks a separate download was because they want iBooks to be freely updateable instead of  having to wait for OS updates.  Anyway, I think that Apple’s excuse is plain odd. In the first place, there are several things that come down OS X install that get trickle updated anytime and out of phase with the core OS. Even for the core OS, service release cycles would be frequent enough for updating any app, even the iBook. Moreover, when Apple announced the 7 iPhone OS 4.0 tentposts, iBooks for iPhone was one of those. This simply suggests that iBooks is more than just any app. It’s more like the Calendar or Mail or iTunes (apps that you just can’t choose to install or uninstall). But in this case, Apple has learned that eBook sellers may pick on this as a cage-rattling opportunity and they’re not allowing that to happen.

Anyway, I am just wondering and thinking, “Well played, Apple!”. If you buy an iPad, you make a choice to download an iBooks or Kindle or Nook or B&N Reader. Thus, Apple cannot be accused of  leveraging platform advantage over the competition. If  in the next 5-10 years, Apple succeeds in getting iPhone OS to become the dorminant  consumer OS and then prices it at double what it’s worth (like $1000) and then appear to be throwing in all-you-can-read eBooks, they would actually be making $500 for eBooks. That would make people stop buying Kindle books.  Then, Amazon Kindle as we know it will be threatened for certain extinction.

I think it makes more sense to me now but it’s little too late for Netscape. I wish I understood it this clearly then.

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  1. Give me an eInk (or other non-backlit device) but without the page-change flicker and I wouldn't have a need for iAnything.

  2. Did you even read the article, J?


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