Somebody is very wrong. Either The New York Times, in its piece Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store, or me, in this very blog entry. My money's on the Times being the one with egg on its face.
The Times writes:
[Apple] has told some applications developers, including Sony, 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.
There's no way that sentence is 100% accurate. Developers could never allow customers to make purchases within apps through any means other than Apple-endorsed, iTunes-processed in-app purchasing. That's precisely why apps like Kindle instead force you to use Mobile Safari to buy new books.
I've often wondered why Amazon didn't use an in-app WebKit view for purchasing new books, and if the Times article has any valid information to share, it may be on this topic. The rule may simply be that any non-Apple supported purchasing may not happen within an app, and that's why Kindle sends you into standalone Safari.
There's no way that Apple will make the Kindle app stop operating the way it does. There's no way that Apple could, save for rejecting the app entirely—which isn't going to happen.
The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon.
Everyone who believes that Apple would enact any policy change that would motivate current iPad owners to purchase Kindles, raise your hand.
The change may signal a shift for Apple. The company has made more money selling hardware than music, e-books or apps. If people could have access to more content from more sources on their iPhones and iPads, the thinking went, then they would buy more devices.
If there's one area where Apple doesn't need extra help, it's in selling more iPads.
Sony got its facts wrong, and got the New York Times to listen. Apple hasn't changed its policy; it's continuing to force one that's already in place: You sell in-app purchases through Apple, or you do it outside the confines of your app.
And if I'm wrong on this one and the paper of record got this story right, I will gladly update this post to point out that I am, in fact, an idiot.
Update: I am not an idiot. I defined being an idiot, in this case, as "I'm wrong on this one, and the paper of record got this story right." The paper of record and/or Sony definitely got it wrong. Whether I got it right is less clear-cut. But I'm going with: Pretty much.