Amazon Acquisition Comixology Pulls iOS In-app Purchases

ComixologyFollowing its acquisition by Amazon earlier this month, digital comics service Comixology has removed the ability to make purchases within its iOS app. Instead, users will be redirected to a store on its mobile site.

Its not hard to see why Amazon would want to sidestep paying 30 per cent of the apps takings to Apple – it has made a similar move on Android with the removal of Google Play payments. But adding two or three extra steps to the purchase process is a rather counter-intuitive decision given that mCommerce firms, Amazon included, have spent the past half-decade trying to reduce the number of clicks to make purchases on mobile.

Digital comics are big business on mobile. Comixology users spend an average $100 (£60) per year, and a quarter spend $400 or more, according to a survey Comixology carried out last year, with 80 per cent of users reading the digital comics on tablet, compared to 44 per cent on PC and 36 per cent on smartphone. In the US, Comixology has been the single highest grossing non-game app on iPad for the past three years. 

So why would Amazon want to put such a major source of revenue for its latest acquisition at risk?

According to a blog post by comics veteran Gerry Conway, its an attempt to “advance [Amazons] proprietary hardware platform, the Kindle, at the expense of Apple’s platform, the iPad and iPhone. They have deliberately degraded the iPad and iPhone Comixology app so that users of the Kindle will have a better reading and purchasing experience.”

This move has been poorly received by comics fans. Conway believes the move “destroys the casual reader’s easy access to an impulse purchase,” and the iOS app currently has a one-star rating on the App Store. Over 200 users have given the app the lowest possible rating since the change was introduced, which is sure to have a negative impact on the apps presence in the store, and its discoverability for new users.

Its unlikely well ever find out exactly how much this decision will hurt Comixologys revenues. Well certainly never know how much that matters to Amazon – though even to such a huge company, surely, the 11th most profitable iPad app is hardly just a drop in the ocean.