The digital comic book retailer ComiXology has been a massively profitable addition to the iOS landscape, but after a number of run-ins with Apple on content, the company is changing things up. On Saturday, April 26, ComiXology quietly announced some major changes to its iOS and Android apps. Android users were given a brand new in-app purchases interface with an improved cart system, but iOS users found an important feature had been removed; in-app purchases.
From now on ComiXology readers using iOS devices will have to buy their digital comic issues via the company's website and then sync the titles to their device, completely bypassing the iOS marketplace. This method of purchases is significantly less direct from consumers, but it allows ComiXology to get around Apple's "morals" issues which have caused content to be blocked from sale in the iOS store in the past.
There's just one issue; that option was always available to iOS ComiXology users, which means iOS users now have a more complicated process of buying their titles than before. For iPad or iPhone readers, there's really no good news here.
Some creators, like Chris Roberson of Moneybrain Comics are thrilled with the changes. No longer allowing in-app purchases via iOS frees up the 30% cut that Apple made on sales made through their devices. In Roberson's eyes this means more money to go back to creators.
I have always recommended people make their @Comixology purchases through the site and not the app, since creators get more money that way.- Chris Roberson (@chris_roberson) April 26, 2014
Now, readers will be spending the same amount on their @Comixology purchases, but the creators will be getting a bigger cut across the board- Chris Roberson (@chris_roberson) April 26, 2014
You'll notice he prefers that all users, not specifically iOS users, buy through the website. All in-app purchases through Android and Apple are subject to the same 30% cut of the profits, the money is just sent to different corporate overloads.
So why did ComiXology kill in-app purchases for iOS devices, but expand its Android store with a new cart and other features? Perhaps it's this little fella.
ComiXology was recently purchased by Amazon, and Amazon's Kindle Fire uses the Android platform. By making it harder to buy comics via the iPad, they've just managed to quietly prop up the Kindle Fire as the easiest option for comic readers thinking about which tablet is right for them. Of course this is simply conjecture on our part, but if there's anything we've learned from Captain America books it's that everything happens for a reason. Also, don't trust Nazis.
To ease the transition for possibly sore readers, ComiXology is giving everyone who has ever made a purchase through the app a $5 credit as a thank you for sticking with them.
As of right now, only the main ComiXology app for iOS has had in-app purchases removed; the ComiXology powered iOS apps for Marvel, DC, IDW, and Image are still allowing customers to buy books on their devices. ComiXology remains the best comic book reader and marketplace available for iOS users. Will these changes to ComiXology drive you to another digital comic retailer? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime here's ComiXology own quick guide for adding a link to their webstore on your iOS home screen. It's at least something.