updated 11:34 am EDT, Fri August 2, 2013
Would undo one of the stricter App Store rules
The Department of Justice has published proposed settlement terms that could force Apple to allow apps to link to outside e-book stores. Last month, the DoJ emerged victorious against Apple in a trial over e-book price fixing. Apple was accused of conspiring with publishers to artificially inflate e-book prices, in particular with the aim of undermining Amazon's once-standard $10 pricetag for Kindle titles. Modern, high-profile e-books are usually priced closer to $13 or $14.
The DoJ's terms would require Apple to allow links to stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble for two years. That would give people the chance to "easily compare Apple's prices with those of its competitors," the Department says, and help "reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy." Other proposed steps include cancelling e-book agreements with the five publishers involved in the conspiracy -- Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster -- and a ban on entering new contracts for another five years. Apple would moreover be prohibited from agreements with providers of music, movies, TV shows and other content "that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple's competitor retailers may sell that content."
App Store rules currently prohibit developers from inserting links to web stores selling digital content. Apps must either use the native in-app purchase system, which gives Apple a 30 percent cut of revenue, or create a login system that downloads content automatically if people have paid for it elsewhere. The Kindle iOS app, for instance, is only useful if people have already separately bought or uploaded books.