orange06FutureBook reports that UK mobile company Orange released an Orange Book Club Android app, allowing customers to browse and download thousands of books, billing them directly to their Orange mobile accounts. However, an iOS version of the application is nowhere to be found.

It turns out that Orange submitted the iOS app at the same time as Apple announced its in-app purchasing policy change, requiring applications to direct in-app purchases through the app store, to the tune of a 30% cut of the revenue.

An Orange spokeswoman said, "Orange had submitted the Apple app at the same time as the Android app, but at the time of submission Apple changed their policy, so Orange is now changing their app to meet with that new policy."

Oddly, Apple has approved recent app updates from Kobo, Amazon, and Netflix, all of which are expected to be affected by the in-app purchase requirements, but all of which still do not incorporate those changes. Of course, there is a grace period that is set to expire June 30th, but it seems strange that these companies would continue upgrading their apps anyway if they knew that they were going to have to pull them in June.

Curiouser and curiouser. I suspect it will be at least July before we fully understand just how all this is going to shake out.


  1. Didn’t this happen back in February?

    They didn’t actually say it was permanently rejected, just that they needed to make changes before resubmitting it. That happens occasionally with apps.

    And maybe we should see what happens when they change/resubmit it before getting out the pitchforks and torches ( again ).

  2. Sigh! I strain my mind to come up with any business whose policies seem as muddled and contradictory as Apple’s iOS app approval. Some decisions seem to be simply stupid, based on little or no reason at all. Those are typically apps rejected for either reasons of taste (given the apps now being accepted, that seems to have disappeared) of for duplicating the functionality of some Apple iOS, although ‘duplicating’ often means ‘doing it better.’ If there’s a reason for the latter, it’s simple jealousy.

    Other acceptances or rejections seem to indicate an eagerness to pander to the powerful (Amazon & Netflix) while bullying those smaller (Sony and now Orange). That’s the behavior of some who has acquireed too much power too fast, exactly what has happened with Apple in the last decade. But then there’s the hostility to Adobe’s market-dominant Flash and (for a time) the rejection of Google’s phone app. But even with Google, Apple’s change suggests bullying as a motive. (Behind every bully lies a coward.) Google put a lot of money into electing Obama, so hints of anti-trust action may have led to Apple backing down. Google has powerful friends at the White House and DOJ.

    For a time, I thought these blunders were little guys in tiny offices making decisions that then embarrassed those at the top. The early app rejects (and sometimes reinstatements) seem to suggest that. But more and more, the circumstances seem to indicate that the problem doesn’t just originate at the top, it originates at the very top. Steve Jobs is defending this muddled 30% of retail grab, whatever it proves to be.

    Steve Jobs may be the key to this. For about two years I worked in a hospital carrying for children who were often dying of cancer. The children themselves tended to either withdraw into a shell (Kubler-Ross’s denial stage) or they became exceptionally kind, trying to do some good in the short time they had left. KR called that (not so accurately in my view) ‘bargaining.’

    Only with parents did I see bitterness and anger (KB’s stage 2). In one case, a teenager girl remained gentle and quiet until the very end. In contrast, her mother wrecked relationships with virtually every nurse in two hospital units, thus making her daughter’s dying more difficult. Only fortunate timing placed me with a nurse unaffected by the mom’s anger the night that girl died.

    I now wonder if Steve Jobs’ health issues are a major factor in these strange policies, with other Apple executives understandably covering for him and unwilling to call him on them. Every biography of Jobs I know of says he was rude and ill-tempered even when he was young and healthy. Facing death tends to make us more ourselves, either for good or ill. Facing death, someone as controlling as Jobs is might be pulled deeply into the anger stage.That could be precisely what is happening at Apple. Wikipedia summarized the anger stage this way: “Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.” And keep in mind that Jobs’ well-known anger has always been carefully concealed from the public. Only those close to him ever see it.

    There is another factor. That teenage girl was a devout Catholic, a religion that has well-established answers to death. It seems unlikely that Steve Jobs’ 1970’s ‘pop’ Buddhism, if that is what he still believes, has views that that are nearly as powerful. In Judeo-Christian belief, we continue to be ourselves after death, retaining our memories, personalities, and even close relationships. In Buddhism, like Hinduism, all that transfers to the next life is the khrama that sends us up or down the chain of being. If our lot in the next life is rotten, we don’t even know what evil deeds of our former life placed us in such misery. And if we have no memories, in what sense is this new us really us?

    The situation at Apple could change. Kubler-Ross’s later stages are 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression, and 5. Acceptance, although she noted that they didn’t necessarily come in that order nor do they come to everyone. Others have challenged her ideas, but I’m not sure their arguments carry much weight. In a sense what KB said is so obvious it is a truism. Death is such an overwhelming and mostly negative event, we are forced to respond in a limited number of ways.

    If this is true, then these confusing and contradictory Apple policies have little to do with well-reasoned corporate policies. Instead, they have more with Jobs’ current emotional state. Perhaps he will move on. Perhaps conditions will change and he will no longer be in a position to set policies. In any case, looking for a rationale (even greed) may be missing the point.

    –Michael W. Perry, editor of Theism and Humanism by Arthur Balfour

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