Like many people, my first reaction to the news that Apple blocked the release of the Sony iOS ereader was to assume that Sony had tried to circumvent the long-standing rule that content purchased inside an iOS app must be mediated by Apple’s purchasing system (and 30% cut).
It may now be the case that there has been a policy change to require the presence of in-app purchasing whenever content can potentially be purchased. This potentially affects many applications, but ereading apps would be particularly hurt because of small margins on ebooks and the added complexity of agency pricing.
When I conceived of Ibis Reader, I thought the primary value of an HTML5-based ereader would be cross-platform availability. When the project kicked off in mid-2009, there were no versions of Android that actually supported HTML5; by the time Ibis launched in February 2010, compatible Android 2 devices were in stores. (Android still lags far behind iOS though, and overall we’ve been disappointed by the slow evolution of Android HTML5 support.)
Now it’s clear that HTML5 offers a more substantial benefit than cross-platform compatibility: ownership. Serious businesses take years to evolve; many of the ereading platforms that are threatened by Apple’s move are not even profitable yet. I would be very nervous about building a business with a long runway that could be rolled up at any minute.
That’s why we’ve decided to aggressively pursue licensing Ibis Reader in 2011. Our experience with our initial licensees has been overwhelmingly positive. Each new integration has strengthened the core platform and added valuable features, some of which are only available in the licensed version:
- Full internationalization support
- Secure content encryption
- Performance enhancements and core platform updates
Because we offer source code licenses, the entire platform is completely customizable and entirely within your control. You may hire us to help integrate Ibis with your ebookstore or content distribution system, or take the code internally for your own use.
Our roadmap for the platform in the coming year:
- Rock-solid, app-like performance
- EPUB3 and enhanced ebook support
- Strategic social-media integration