Apple iPad buyers will have to download Apple’s “iBooks” e-reader app and bookstore separately when Apple’s tablet begins shipping next month. It won’t be installed by default, as we pointed out last week.
One theory is that this will make it easier and faster for Apple to offer updates to the app to make quick improvements. On the iPhone, at least, built-in apps are only updated when Apple issues an entirely new version of its system software, whereas apps downloaded by the user can be updated instantly via the App Store. We imagine the iPad will have a similar setup, so by not bundling the app, it can make quicker changes.
But another theory is that this makes Apple look better in terms of potential antitrust violations.
If Apple were to bundle the iBooks store as a built-in app, and it absolutely dominated the iPad e-book market as a result of that, Apple could potentially be accused of a similar abuse of power that Microsoft was accused of in the 1990s, when it got in trouble for bundling Internet Explorer as the default Web browser for Microsoft Windows. (Microsoft eventually settled, and still bundles IE with most copies of Windows, but it was a huge mess.)
By not bundling the iBooks store as a built-in iPad app, it seems likely that Apple would be in better shape. It can say that iPad customers have equal access to rival e-reader apps and e-book stores, such as Amazon’s or Barnes and Noble’s, and aren’t being pushed into Apple’s e-book store.
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