Read Steve Jobs’ emails about why you can’t buy digital books in Amazon’s apps

The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee has just released a huge trove of internal documents from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google as part of its vast investigation into the tech industry. The documents reveal the internal machinations of companies that are typically highly secretive — and they even include a few buried emails from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which we’ve shared below.

Two sets of emails discuss the decisions that, to this day, keep iPhone and iPad users from buying digital books in Amazon’s apps. (You have to use a web browser as a workaround.)

In one email from November 2010, marketing chief Phil Schiller wrote to Jobs, internet services lead Eddy Cue, and product marketing head Greg Joswiak about how Amazon was marketing the Kindle mobile app at the time as a way to easily read Kindle books across both an iPhone and an Android device. Jobs said, “[i]t’s time for Amazon to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out [of the App Store],” and followed that with “[a]nd I think it’s time to begin applying this uniformly except for existing subscriptions (but applying it for new ones).”

In another conversation, Cue laid out a draft of new subscription policies for apps on the App Store on February 6th, 2011, days before Apple officially announced the new policies.

Jobs said: “I think this is all pretty simple — iBooks is going to be the only bookstore on iOS devices. We need to hold our heads high. One can read books bought elsewhere, just not buy/rent/subscribe from iOS without paying us, which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things.”

Amazon and other book sellers would later remove the link to the Kindle Store in the iOS app to comply with the then-new App Store subscription rules. You still can’t buy Kindle books in the iOS app.

In another conversation from April 2010, former Facebook employee Joe Hewitt, who built the first versions of the Facebook iOS app, complained about changes to the iOS 4.0 developer agreement to Apple developer relations lead Ron Okamoto and with the press. Okamoto shared an update on the situation with Jobs, Schiller, and former software head Scott Forstall.

Jobs replied: “I’d suggest we just cut Joe off from now on.”

Other documents revealed that Apple gave Amazon special treatment to get Prime Video into the App Store, which you can read about here. And if you missed the hearing yesterday, here’s our recap of the whole thing.

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