The Day Apple Became Nathan Myhrvold

Apple on Sony Reader: “We Have Not Changed Our Guidelines”

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” company spokesperson Trudy Miller told me. “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.”

In other words, Apple wants its cut on sales enabled by its iOS devices, it has an established guideline that allows it to take it and that’s what it’s doing. Developers are still free to send customers to their own Web stores, but they must also offer them the option of purchasing content within their apps themselves, and they must route those sales through Apple which will then take its percentage.

What the hell is this nonsense?!

Are we suddenly going to see eBook listings that explicitly say, “Click this link to buy via Mobile Safari and SAVE 30%!!!”?

How long do you think Apple will let that stand?

This entire thing needs to be slapped down by some law. It’s ridiculous for Apple to force vendors to sell everything through them so they can collect a toll.

This is the kind of hubristic greed physicist Nathan Myhrvold was cooking up at Microsoft instead of spending his time creating a better battery (see The Microsoft Way: The Real Story of How the Company Outsmarts Its Competition for the infamous memo he drafted while there). Also, The Microsoft Provocateur:

Yet Myhrvold is no less a warrior-capitalist than Gates, and one also sees the warrior in the memos that Myhrvold sends Gates: they contain bookmaker lingo explaining how he hopes Microsoft can get “a vig” by charging whenever a Microsoft platform is used to make a transaction over the Internet. “Every job Nathan has had included helping me decide our strategy,” Gates explained in an E-mail response to questions.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.


The Net’s combination of free content and sparse advertising led Myhrvold to be dubious—as he had been all along—of its commercial potential. “Nobody gets a vig on content on the Internet today,” he wrote. “The question is whether this will remain true.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

He soooo loves that idea that he’s created Intellectual Ventures to be the face-sucking vampire squid of every possible invention.

And now Apple is following in Myhrvold’s footsteps.

An iOS device someone pays for is not an Apple Colony. Apple does not suddenly become Colonialist Great Britain or Ancient Rome with its customers as colonial subjects.

This isn’t a question of Apple building a specific business as Amazon did with eBooks. This is Apple forcing every publisher and bookseller to knuckle under to Apple’s monopoly power for access to iOS device buyers (who, again, are not colonial subjects!).

Some have argued that Apple is a “curator” of content. What a load of crap! How many fart apps are in their store? How many X-rated lyrics in the iTunes Music Store? How much rape, beating, and murder in its iTunes video store? Apple has created none of that, has vetted less than a rounding error portion of it, yet is happy to take a cut of all of it — just as any pimp with a stall of whores does.

Apple did not build the eBook business. Apple is clearly incompetent at the eBook business, with embarrassing ban after ban after ban to its “credit.” They’ve repeatedly stuck their snout into a business they clearly do not understand and have zero respect for: publishing. And for this continued vandalism they expect a 30% — in Myhrvold’s delightful turn of phrase — vig?

Anyone should be able to sell a newsstand-like app and all out-of-app sales are none of Apple’s business, period. Apple should not be able to put a squeeze on everyone for a cut it wrongly believes it should get. This is called Restraint of Trade. What happens next? Mobile Safari will have a White List of sites Apple approves of and all others are off-limits?

Does Apple have absolutely no sense of history at all? Did it learn anything from the Microsoft decision?


The Court identified several general ways in which consumers have been harmed by Microsoft’s ability to undermine the competitive process. These fall into two broad categories, qualitative and monetary.

Qualitative Harm
Denial of choice: Microsoft’s anticompetitive practices have the effect of denying consumers choice.[Footnote 98:Findings, 247, 410; Conclusions, 11.]

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

This is the road Apple has chosen to go.

Let me tell you something, Apple: There is nothing inherently special about the iPad that makes it irreplaceable. Your cool hardware is nothing but a brick if developers and content companies abandon you!

Android is shaping up with version 3.0 and you will be surrounded by hardware manufacturers who won’t put a crapcam in their tablet (as the iPad 2 is currently rumored to contain). And there’s HP/Palm with webOS — I expect some major competition from them, the first company that succeeded at true handheld finger-friendly multitasking.

Both of those companies are watching what you’ve been doing, Apple. And if they have any brains at the top, they will know they shouldn’t follow your lead when it comes to content.

And one final word, Apple:

You are betting against the Internet.

The Internet always wins.


A Note To All Corporate Ass-Kissers
What Business Is


Filed under Apple: The Company, Digital Overthrow, Digital Periodicals, eBooks: General, Friction

5 responses to “The Day Apple Became Nathan Myhrvold

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Day Apple Became Nathan Myhrvold « Mike Cane's xBlog --

  2. Don Linn

    I believe in the Arab world this is called “baksheesh”. I’ll look forward to Apple’s official announcement which several people I respect say will clear the whole thing up, but if this interpretation is correct, we have a new villain on the block.

  3. Pingback: Next Stop: » Publishing Geekly

  4. Comparing Apple to Myhrvold is in bad taste. Myhrvold is pure evil. Apple may be evil but not pure evil.

  5. Pingback: Apple needs to make peace with Medialand | Fullrunner

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