Apple kicks Sony Reader out of App Store

Apple is said to be introducing new restrictions on its App Store service, preventing developers from producing software that includes in-app purchases that don't give Apple a cut of the proceeds - and Sony is the first victim.

Sony produces a Reader app for iPhone and Android smartphones, replicating the functionality of its Reader range of portable e-book viewing devices without the need to buy dedicated hardware. Like Amazon's Kindle app, also available on iPhone and Android, it allows the user to buy books directly from the app.

In a note on the Reader Mobile page, however, Sony reports that Apple has pulled the rug out from under the company: "Unfortunately, with little notice, Apple changed the way it enforces its rules and this will prevent the current version of the Reader for iPhone from being available in the app store. We opened a dialog (sic) with Apple to see if we can come up with an equitable resolution but reached an impasse at this time."

Although Sony isn't exactly forthcoming with details, a report in The New York Times suggests that the reason Sony's Reader app was rejected is because Apple isn't happy that money is changing hands and it's not getting a cut.

The newspaper cites Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading division, as confirming that Apple is insisting that all in-app purchases will need to go through Apple's own purchasing system - meaning Sony, and others, will need to give the Cupertino company a cut of the cash.

So far, Sony's Reader app is the first to be affected by the sudden shift in Apple's attitude - despite the fact that Amazon's Kindle app offers the same in-app purchasing option and is, at the time of writing, still available for both iPhone and iPad.

With Apple looking to push its own iBooks store, and adding in subscription technology for magazine publishers, capricious changes such as this could become a regular feature of the App Store as the company decides to take the easy route to beating its competition.