Last week, users in China mysteriously saw the iTunes Movies store and iBooks store shut down. At the time, it was unclear why the services went down, but now, the New York Times reports that the two stores were ordered to shut down by the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Film, and Television.
Well, the e-book case that began in 2012¬†when the US government accused Apple of price-fixing¬†finally¬†ended yesterday¬† when the Supreme Court declined to hear Apple’s appeal. That left the original ruling intact, meaning that Apple is officially guilty of anti-competitive behavior and will have to fork out $450M in compensation.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the correct result was reached in law. Apple¬†did deliberately set out to fix prices,¬†it did strike secret deals, and it did intend to manipulate the e-book market. Emails from Steve Jobs confirmed the government’s claim that Apple struck the deals in the belief that consumers would end up paying more¬†for e-books.
Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99. [Up from the typical $9.99 at the time.]
So far, so good.¬†If you’d brought that evidence to me at the time Apple did the deals, I’d have agreed with the government that the company’s behavior was both illegal and morally wrong. But¬†I’d argue that by the time the case was finally brought to court, it was already abundantly clear that it was not in the public interest to pursue it …
Apple will be on the hook for $450 million after losing its appeal in the e-book price-fixing case, Bloomberg reports. The United States Supreme Court released the decision after Apple appealed the prior ruling. The high-profile case dates back to a 2012¬†lawsuit from the United States, which Apple appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, but the justices declined to hear the case which leaves the prior ruling intact.
Apple has released the fourth OS X 10.11.4 preview for registered developers to test ahead of its expected release next month.¬†The software update to the Mac will likely be released around next month’s March 15th event and is expected to coincide with a new version of iTunes.¬†For Mac users, the latest version of OS X El Capitan adds enhancements like being able to view and share Live Photos originally taken on the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus as well as the ability to lock notes behind a secure password. We’re check out the latest beta and update with any changes.
Notes on the Mac also gains the ability to import data¬†from competing note-taking apps like Evernote (here’s a tutorial) or just plain text or rich text files.
Both the Photos and iBooks apps have also been focus areas for the software update, and issues loading Twitter URLs with Safari appear to be resolved as well.
Let us know in the comments, via email at¬†tips at 9to5mac dot com, or on Twitter¬†@9to5Mac¬†if you spot any changes in the new beta, and we‚Äôll update with changes we find as well.
One of the minor irritants for those of us who have slight OCD tendencies is that there’s no way you can remove built-in iPhone apps ‚Äď the best you can do is tuck them away inside a folder, which in my case is called unused.
But YouTube user¬†Jose Rodriguez has found a couple of ways¬†to actually render them invisible ‚Äď at least for now. The main method, shown in the video below, works for iOS 9 to 9.2. Essentially you drag¬†the app toward the right edge of a folder, then let it go. You then repeat this, but the second time keep touching it while you press the home button ‚Äď the app then disappears …
Note that the apps will return if you restart your phone, and appears to rely on an iOS bug, so there’s no guarantee it will continue to work.
The same user does have a second method which survives restarts, but that one is clunkier. It requires you to have grey wallpaper, and to reduce transparency. Check it out here if you want to try it.
Finally, if you’re finding that apps don’t update promptly, or you’re experiencing glitches with the App Store, developer Zachary Drayer¬†found a strange way to empty the cache. Simply go into the App Store and tap any of the buttons at the bottom of the screen (Featured, Top Charts, Explore, Search or Updates) ten times in quick succession. The screen will briefly go blank, and then return.¬†Business Insider reports that it also works in iBooks and the Apple Watch app and on the Mac in iTunes.
The U.S. Justice Department has said that is now satisfied with Apple’s measures to guard against any repetition of the type of anti-competitive behaviour ruled illegal in the long-running ebooks trial.¬†Bloomberg reports that the department has recommended that the court-appointed monitor is no longer necessary.
In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has ‚Äúnow implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.‚ÄĚ
The letter did, however, note that Apple¬†‚Äúnever embraced a cooperative working relationship with the monitor” …¬†
Apple denied this, but did agree that the relationship had been “rocky.” Apple had previously complained that it was being overcharged by the lawyer appointed by the court to monitor its compliance with the ebook ruling, after it received a bill for $138,432 for a fortnight’s work by¬†Michael Bromwich.
Apple later called for Bromwich to be removed from the role, stating that he was attempting to extend his remit beyond that specified by the court, and demanding interviews with senior Apple execs who’d had no involvement in any of the ebook negotiations. Apple’s motion was denied.
While this chapter of the ebook saga¬†appears to be at end end, it may not be the end of the story: Apple is appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apple’s argument is that¬†it needed to act aggressively in pricing negotiations to break Amazon’s near-monopoly in the ebook market at the time. Some judges from Apple’s previous appeal have expressed sympathy with this view.
A notable omission from the iBooks library has been Harry Potter, the most successful literary book series.¬†JK Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, has kept eBook rights exclusive to her own website until today.¬†This morning, Apple announced that all seven of the books are¬†finally available to buy in¬†the iBooks app to be read on iPhone, iPad¬†and Mac.
The books include more than just the text of the story. The ‘enhanced editions’ feature brand new interactive elements, animations, ‘elaborate’ artwork, notes from the author and exclusive covers.
In a press release, Apple CEO Tim Cook¬†said the company is thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm thrilled to see the Harry Potter books so beautifully realised on iBooks for the digital world; the artwork and animations in these enhanced editions bring the stories alive in a delightful new way,‚ÄĚ said J.K. Rowling.
‚ÄúHarry Potter fans are going to love how their favorite stories come to life,‚ÄĚ said Tim Cook, Apple‚Äôs CEO. ‚ÄúJ.K. Rowling‚Äôs legendary series is perfect for enjoying on your iPad or iPhone and we‚Äôre thrilled to offer them exclusively on the iBooks Store.‚ÄĚ
Until now, the Harry Potter digital books have only been available for readers to purchase through the Pottermore Shop. Starting today, iBooks¬ģ users can experience the books with all new exclusive custom covers for each title, and typography including the custom Harry Potter typefaces and new section headers and drop caps.
The exclusive-content ebooks are priced at $9.99 each and are availably today in the United States, the United Kingdom and 30 more countries.¬†iBooks will be bringing Harry Potter to¬†more languages in November. Preorders for French and Spanish¬†versions¬†start today.
Apple has scored a belated additional victory against Samsung in its endless patent trial battle with the smartphone rival.¬†Apple had originally asked the court for two remedies: financial compensation, and an injunction forbidding Samsung from continuing to sell devices which infringed its patents. The court said yes to the first, no to the second. As […]
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I love the Apple ecosystem. It’s not perfect, and the gap between it and the Google alternative isn’t as great as it used to be, but¬†to my mind it’s still by far the best solution for anyone looking to have all their data and content available across both desktop and mobile devices.
But there’s one notable gap in my own use of the Apple system: books. Despite the fact that my iPad is my primary ebook reader, I still use the Kindle app and buy my books from Amazon rather than Apple …¬†
That’s largely¬†historical accident.¬†As a very early adopter of ebooks (who’d have thunk it?), I bought the very first Kindle and it was love at first sight. For someone who loves to read, and typically has more than one book on the go at any given time, the ability to carry hundreds of books around with me wherever I went ‚Äď and in a device so small and light I scarcely noticed its presence in a bag ‚Äď was a dream.
As soon as I started carrying an iPad everywhere with me, it seemed silly to carry two tablet-style devices, so at that point I switched to using my iPad as my ebook reader. But with hundreds of books in the Kindle format, and no reason to convert them, I stuck with Amazon for my purchases.
I’m far from alone in this, of course: Kindle remains the dominant ebook platform. But to see some of the¬†numbers that have been floating around over the past year or so, you might think it’s only a matter of time before iBooks overtakes Kindle.
A¬†UK study found that 50% of ebook readers used Kindle while 31% used iBooks. A US study last summer suggested that in the 18-24 age-range, iBooks was now just 2% behind Kindle.¬†In January, Apple’s iBooks head¬†Keith Moerer said that the store had averaged a million new customers a week¬†since the launch of iOS 8 and Yosemite.
As a reader, I’d idly wondered whether iBooks really could be gaining ground at such a rapid pace. My circle of friends includes a lot of avid readers, and a lot of¬†iDevice owners too, yet almost everyone I know buys from Amazon rather than Apple.
But publishing my own technothriller novels (11/9 and The Billion Dollar Heist ‚Äď thanks for asking) was the first time when my skepticism seemed to be backed by some hard data. Both books were available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo ‚Äď and sales data allow me to see exactly where my sales are coming from. The results were interesting, to say the least:
Kobo: Zero sales
Given that I write a lot about Apple, and most of my Twitter followers probably discovered me through a link to an article on¬†9to5Mac, it’s a pretty safe bet that my readers and followers comprise a higher than average proportion of Apple owners.¬†So I have to think that 7% is higher than for the average author out there.
So, both my anecdotal experience of friends, and some hard sales data for a couple of novels, suggests that iBooks is a lot further behind Kindle than some of the more general numbers might suggest. How to explain this?
I think the answer may be in¬†the fact that users, customers and sales may be three very different things. iBooks now comes installed as standard on Macs, iPhones and iPads. Anyone who ever opens up the app¬†to read part of a single book may be counted as a ‘user.’ I also rather¬†suspect that Apple’s ‘customer’ numbers include anyone who has downloaded a book from iBooks, free or paid.
But even if customers are people who have paid for books, if your average iBooks customer buys one book¬†a year and your average Kindle customer buys 13 books a year, there’s your 7%/92% split. So my suspicion is that even if iBooks is doing ok on the user and customer front, Kindle is still probably well ahead on sales.
And a recent change to Amazon’s¬†payment to authors for books borrowed by Prime and Kindle Unlimited members means that iBooks may be left even further behind. Amazon now pays authors per page read of the books members borrow.¬†For longer books like mine, it looks likely that the revenue from lending ‚Äď which requires ebooks to be exclusive to Amazon ‚Äď would significantly outweigh the¬†sales revenue from iBooks. Which was the reason I was studying the numbers in the first place: making the decision to pull my books from iBooks, Nook and Kobo.
Do you buy ebooks from iBooks, Kindle or elsewhere? Recognizing that some may buy from more than one source, please tick the one that represents the majority of your purchases, only going for the ‘Even split’ option if the split is close to 50/50.¬†As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.