This would be a monumental mistake, if true. They’ve already done it with the Sony reader, and they are having constant fights with other iOS content providers because the Boys of Cupertino want to control the money flow of their customers.

I’ve had multiple readers on my iPad since day one for a reason: iBooks sucks.  Not a little, a lot. We’re talking Jupiter-sized amounts of suck. The availability of books is absolute crap and most of it is very limited in scope, compared to Amazon, and the only place it has a slight lead over Kindle is that it gives you page count, instead of section counts — more useful for using the material in an academic piece.

This sort of locked-down nonsense that makes non-Apple users rail (rightfully) against the Mac platform. I’ve no problem with them restricting certain apps that might be harmful to the stability of the iOS devices (although I’d like the choice, anyway, just warn me the software or content is dangerous), but limiting the functionality of my machine (I bought it; it’s not mine to do with as a please) is a no-go in my book.

UPDATE: Publishers in Europe had, at the launch of the device, pushed Apple to let them do in-app subscriptions, but the Wizards of Cupertino wouldn’t let them…so they redirected the buying of books, magazines, and other downloaded content to their websites. (Case in point: Amazon with their Kindle for iPad/iPhone/Mac app.) Now that the Apple moneymen have realized how much they have to gain, the company is threatening to ban apps that do not do in-app subscriptions that allow them to take a 30% cut.

Simply put, Apple is trying to think like a retailer for the content outside providers are giving the end users. While some agree (often reflexively) with Apple, the “betrayed” publishers in Europe seem to suggest that just having access to their content without Cupertino mafiosi changing a cut aids the sale of the devices, and aids Apple in the end. “By promoting these apps, they promoted the device. Publishers in fact helped to make the iPad successful on the market.” I tend to agree with them on this last point.

More problematic to me than the 30% “road tax” that Apple is trying to slap everyone with, is the issue that iBooks and iTunes often do not have the breadth of product that, for instance, Amazon does. Cupertino also adheres to an outmoded idea of what cost for electronic material should be; the lack of printing costs, shipping costs, and the general “info should be free” attitude of the internet generation means that success of the iOS devices will increasingly require lower prices on content. Amazon, Google and the Android tablet market get this; Apple would be wise to hop on board.

(There may be a way Amazon and others could get around the in-app issue by allowing users to choose to go to their website or to pay Apple’s tax… More here.)