Important Progress in Equal Rights for LGBT

Today brings great news regarding the slow but steady march toward equal rights for all LGBT citizens. In expected but still wonderful news, Hawaii has become the seventh state to authorize civil unions (three states that previously enacted civil union laws now allow gay marriages). There are now 13 states and one district that allow same-sex marriages or offer partnerships with comparable rights and responsibilities to opposite-sex marriages.

In more surprising news, the White House has declared the “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional and the Department of Justice will no longer defend Section 3 of the law. This progress comes on top of the recent expansion of hospital visitation rights to same sex couples and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and it bodes well for the various legal battles that will eventually bring the issue to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The following states (and district) have taken the appropriate steps forward to put this insane era of discrimination behind us:

Gay Marriages (5 + 1 district):

  • Connecticut
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D.C.

Civil Unions (4):

  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Vermont

Domestic Partnerships with similar rights to marriage (4):

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Domestic Partnerships with some of the rights of marriage (4):

  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Wisconsin

Recognize Gay Marriages (3):

  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

Image source: AppleInsider – “Inside subscription content: Apple iPad vs Google One vs Amazon Kindlepage 3 table.

This fanstastic graphic from AppleInsider summarizes the various subscription plans now offered for Apple’s iOS App Store, Google’s Android store, and and Amazon’s Kindle store. The Apple plan looks downright generous in this comparison! This begs the question: why are developers and digital media companies in an uproar?

Apple’s Subscription Gamble

Apple announced their digital media subscription service for the iOS App Store today and reaction has been all over the place, though for certain classes of people it has been overwhelmingly negative. Developers and publishers especially are not happy with the service requirements.

For digital media like streaming video from Netflix, Hulu Plus; streaming music from Pandora; and ebooks from Amazon’s Kindle Store, customers currently purchase subscriptions and digital media on the providers’ websites. Then they are able to view the digital media using the providers’ free iOS apps. With this announcement, digital media providers can continue to offer media in this manner, but in addition they are now required to add an in-app subscription feature to their apps, one that will make use of iTunes own payment service. The customer has a choice: pay for the digital media inside the app or pay for it on the provider’s website. The digital media provider has a choice: pay Apple 30% if the customer pays for the digital media inside the app, or pay Apple 0% if the customer pays for it on the provider’s website.

Apple positioned their take as payment for bringing new customers to the digital media provider. “We have the platform,” Apple seems to be saying, “and we have the customers. How about 30% for bringing you a new paying customer?” It would have been strange if Apple had not wanted a cut of in-app subscriptions, because they have always taken a cut of in-app purchases. What Apple is really saying, a bit deviously perhaps, is go ahead and set your platform against our platform. Let’s see who brings in new paying customers.

Apple has taking a calculated risk, one which they cannot lose. If their assumptions about platforms, digital media, and customers are wrong, then a quick policy change will put the entire ugly affair behind them. If their assumptions are correct then Apple stands to gain both a financial windfall and a new level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.