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Will Apple kill the app?

by Rob Watson on 15.08.2011 09:56

Given the popularity and amount of press coverage of apps for mobile devices, in particular the boost to this market from the iPad, it may seem an odd claim that the app may be on the way out. But Apple's recent changes to its App Store terms may just have started its own demise.

As well as taking a 30% cut of all apps purchased, Apple now prohibits apps from linking directly to anything that is sold outside its own App store. This proved to be too much for Amazon, who quietly complied with the new rules in their Kindle iPad app, but have now launched the Kindle Cloud Reader which although it runs on the iPad, is not a "native" app, but is an HTML5 web application - freeing it from Apple's licencing terms and protecting Amazon's revenue stream. The FT took a similar approach.

It also benefits the app developers who can deliver the same HTML5 app on multiple devices instead of separate apps for different platforms.

Over the decades, various technologies have see-sawed between "closed" environments where innovation or market dominiance gives one supplier the ability to dictate development and delivery channels, and "open" environments where the customers start to dictate adherence to standards and choice of supplier. It will be interesting to see how this turns out - will the proprietary app soon be a thing of the past, or will Apple either bow to the app providers demands and change their terms, or come up with yet another killer innovation to keep their dominance?