It takes a lot to spoil my breakfast. But I choked on my cornflakes this morning when I read that Apple seems to be turning against non-App Store purchases of books. Apparently Sony had their iOS reader application turned down because it would have allowed users to purchase books directly from the Sony store. In common with most industry commentators, I see little difference between what Sony was trying to do and what Amazon already do very successfully. The Kindle eco-system is well on the way to cornering the ebook market while Apple's own iBookStore languishes in the doldrums.
At the moment, the Kindle app circumvents the App Store (and Apple's 30% commission) by taking book buyers to the website where the transaction takes place entirely within the Amazon system. Presumably Apple doesn't like this and there is a fear that they could now do something about it. Since there is absolutely no chance that Amazon would give in and pay Apple's commission, there's a strong likelihood of a confrontation that will penalise users.
The Kindle store is successful because purchases can be read on almost any device, from the dedicated Kindle reader through to smartphones, Macs and PCs. Contrast this with the Apple iBookstore which is a closed eco-system. Buy a book there and you can read it on your iPad or your iPhone. Nowhere else.
Apple has failed to introduce iBooks apps for other platforms - not even for OS X which is pretty inexplicable. If they had done, and could approach Amazon in price and content, they would have had a success on their hands. As it is, few avid book readers are interested in closed systems any more.
Many of us have by now invested a lot of money in the Kindle eco-system and will be seriously disgruntled if Apple tries to turn off the tap. While Cupertino might see short-term financial advantages in restricting book sales in this way, they would lose in the long run.
Today Sony joined the music-streaming band with subscription-based access to over six million tracks. With Spotify and other similar services already winning customers, Apple's much-delayed entry to the market even more inexplicable. Usually out there ahead of the pack, Apple is looking decidedly tardy.
The traditional iTunes muscic-selling leviathan is now holed below the waterline, possibly fatally. It is beyond doubt that subscription streaming is the future - at least for the mainstream music consumer. Purists will still want their CDs or massive audio files on their own computers, just as some still prefer vinyl, but the man in the street with his iPod will be happy to move to subscription streaming.
In my case, now I have Spotify installed on my Macs and my iPhone I cannot envisage a time in the future when I would actually purchase a piece of music. I have never been a big music buyer, but I am listening to a wider variety of music than ever before thanks to Spotify. The pressure is on Apple now and I would not be surprised by a January announcement; after all, they have to do something with that massive North Carolina server farm.