The problem with closed systems – Apple blocks Sony book application

By February 2, 2011Amazon, Apple, Innovation

image The problem with closed systems like Apple’s where a single vendor looks to sell product at multiple different levels in the value chain is that pretty soon they end up with conflicts between the different levels and the product suffers as a result.  It looks like this is playing out at Apple now – the New York Times published an article yesterday which reports that Apple has rejected Sony’s iPhone application which would have let people buy and read e-books from the Sony Reader Store.  In this example Apple is looking to sell both iPads/iPhones and books to read on them and the conflict comes when people want to use their iPads/iPhones to read books bought from Sony rather than Apple.  Predictably Apple chooses to protect the interest of its book store by banning the Sony app, and in so doing makes the iPad a less useful device.

The net result is to stifle innovation – in this case Sony won’t get the chance to show what it has developed, but more insidiously, going forward people will figure it isn’t worth even trying to innovate in areas where Apple has an interest – e.g. books, music, movies, TV, recommendations etc.

On the back of this news one has to wonder if Apple is thinking about banning the Kindle app, which would be a real shame.  I love having the Kindle as my primary reading device but being able to dip into my books via the Kindle app on my iPhone any time I want to and without having the hassle of carrying them around.  I prefer the Kindle to the iPad for reading books because it is lighter and a little smaller.

UPDATE: More detail on TC here

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