Might iBooks come to Android?
The obvious answer is something involving porcine aviation, but maybe it just got a little less unlikely. Prompted by a 9to5Mac article about a job posting by Apple looking for Android developers, the Motley Fool reports that Apple is developing an Apple Music app for Android. This is actually one of two Android apps Apple is developing—the other, “Move to iOS,” is an Android app to help people export their information from an Android phone.
But might other Apple applications—most notably iBooks—follow suit? The Fool notes:
Speaking at D11 way back in 2013, Tim Cook discussed the idea of porting Apple apps to Android. He said, "We have no religious issue with doing that. If we thought it made sense to do that, we would do it."
The Fool doesn’t mention iBooks, but does compare the Apple Music move to when Apple released iTunes for Windows so that Windows users could buy iPods. Given that iPods were already setting the world on fire back then, the move made sense. With Apple Music, Apple is more like a 3rd or 4th mover in the world of streaming music—but on the other hand, they want their new service to be used, and they have to be aware that iOS’s market share is vanishingly tiny compared to Android right now.
If they’re developing one app for Android (well, all right, two, but I don’t think an app designed to help people stop using Android should really count), might they develop more? Well, why shouldn’t they? There’s nothing about an e-book that should require owning an iOS or Apple device to read it—apart from the fact that iBooks e-books can only be read on the iBooks client, which only runs on iOS and OS X right now. Plenty of people read non-Apple books on other platforms already. Putting iBooks out there so that they could buy their e-books from Apple instead could only help boost sales a little.
The question is, would it boost sales enough to be worth the cost of app development? Lots more people listen to music than read, it seems, and many of those on Android who do read already buy them from somewhere else.
If Apple really wanted to push their e-book store, the best time to have come out with an iBooks app for other platforms would have been when they launched it. But back then, Jobs saw their e-book store only as a way to boost sales of the iPad, so having it available for other platforms would have been counterproductive. Even now, making an iBooks for Android now would only make it easier for people who already bought into a lot of iBooks to move across to a different platform, which is the opposite of what Apple wants. (They’ve not made an iOS app called “Move to Android,” after all.)
So for my part, I’m going to say that, no, Apple is not going to crank out iBooks for Android any time soon. It makes sense to bring Apple Music to Android because people still associate Apple with the groundbreaking iPod and iTunes duo that changed the way people listened to music back in the day. The company still has enough musical snob cachet that Android people might actually want to try that service.
But since when has Apple ever been known for e-books? (Aside from…well, you know.)