comixology announced Saturday they were changing the way readers would buy their digital comics on their iOS apps. The company, whose iOS app holds the distinction of being the number one ranked app for in-app purchases on Apple’s iOS devices, removed the ability for users to buy comics from comiXology's existing iOS app, and have released a new app intended to replace it that requires customers to make purchases directly through the company’s webstore.
Approximately two hours after implementing these changes for iOS users, the comiXology tumblr account posted an update detailing the changes they made to their Apple and Android polices. While the comiXology app for Android users was updated to include a shopping cart feature and add in-app purchases, the updated app for iPhone/iPad obliquely lays out a policy that permanently disables the option to buy a comic directly in the app. iPhone/iPad users are directed by the existing app to get the new app that will allow them to only download and read comics they have registered to their accounts. To add a new comics the user must instead launch a web-browser, buy directly from the comiXology website, then download it via the new app to read on the go.
“As we move to complete the acquisition with Amazon, comiXology is shifting to the web-based purchasing model Amazon has successfully used with Kindle, which we expect will allow us to strike the best balance between prices, selection and customer experience,” said comiXology Vice President of Communications Chip Mosher in a statement. “Please note that any customer who has purchased paid content on comiXology in the past will be getting a $5 eGift Card credit to help ease this transition."
According to the comiXology support Twitter account, the earlier app with its disabled purchasing will be “retired” at some undefined point in the future. Notably, the new iOS app currently has no 'browse new comics' feature, thus limiting users to the web store to learn if a new book has been released, if there is a sale on a title, or preview a few pages to generate interest in new books.
The reasoning behind this shift is speculation at this point, but given the comiXology app’s position as one of the highest earning applications on both Apple iOS and Google Android platforms, the decision to take the Apple App store and Google Play out of the financial transaction and place it squarely between the customer and comiXology seems clear. Under this new protocol, comiXology likely won't have to pay the industry giant a percentage of every dollar the app has been earning if iPhone/iPad users, for example, can't use their iTunes account anymore to buy comics.
Overall user reaction on Twitter to the move has been less than positive, and while not a complete surprise for a fan base that is resistant to change, it is a major shift in the way comics readers buy and read their comics digitally.