Amazon has begun the Amazonification of recent acquisition ComiXology, by killing in-app purchases within the popular “Comics” by ComiXology app. This required the actual removal of the original app from the App Store, and the introduction of a new read-only viewer, with the store relocating entirely to the web.
Back when Apple introduced a rule forbidding direct linking to outside stores, or use of ecommerce means beyond its own App Store mechanisms within apps, Amazon caved and removed the link to its own Kindle store, making it so users simply couldn’t buy books directly from its iOS software. The ecommerce giant clearly didn’t want to cough up the 30 percent Apple requires for purchases routed through its own store, and it doesn’t look like it’s any more willing to forego that cut with ComiXology, its newly-acquired company.
The real casualty resulting from this squabble over revenues is the user, however. ComiXology’s app used to be dependable as a one-stop shopping and consumption destination for digital comics, and the startup had managed to become the default destination for a range of publishers, including Marvel and DC. This feature removal isn’t going unnoticed; reviews of the app have plummeted with the new version, with a cumulative 1.5 star rating across 1,129 reviews on the App Store as of this writing.
It’s not all bad news, at least thus far: The ComiXology-powered Marvel, DC and Image apps appear to be unaffected, so you can still go to those to purchase titles directly, at least from the major studios, at least for now.
ComiXology managed to turn digital comics from a fringe case reserved for a few digital diehard enthusiasts, to a default requirement for any modern comics publisher, and it did so mainly on the backs of convenience and ease of use. The loss of in-app purchases from its flagship app may be what Amazon needs to do for long-term financial viability, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow for longtime ComiXology fans who were hoping to see the brand flourish under its new owners.