Apple backs down on in-app purchasing rules, allows lower prices for out-of-app purchases

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple this week revised its rules for in-app subscriptions, and no longer requires that subscriptions purchased outside of an iOS application have the same price or less.



Under the old rules, Apple required that subscriptions sold outside of the App Store umbrella, where Apple does not receive a 30 percent cut, be "at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app."



But, as noted Thursday by MacRumors, the new App Store Review Guidelines unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference this week have removed the need for prices to be identical out of the App Store. Apple only requires that "there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content."



The change will likely mean that content providers like Amazon, which sells e-books through its online store for use in the Kindle application, will be unaffected by the previously-set June 30 deadline. Under Apple's previous rules, Amazon would have been forced to offer the option of purchasing content within the Kindle application at the same price, while paying Apple a 30 percent cut of the sale.



One the App Store rules for subscriptions and in-app purchases were unveiled, Apple announced that legacy applications approved before the changes would have until June 30 to comply with the new rules. That meant software like Amazon Kindle, Nextlix or Hulu+ originally had until the end of the month to add a "buy" button and give Apple a 30 percent cut of sales, or they could be removed from the App Store.



Apple's new rules, detailed in section 11.14 of the App Store Review Guidelines, make it clear that approved iOS software "can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app," provided there is no link to purchase that content elsewhere at a lower price. "Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app."







Apple's change of opinion comes soon after one prominent content provider, the Financial Times, decided to create an HTML5-optimized website rather than submit to Apple's in-app subscription rules and give the company a 30 percent cut. By offering its product in the Safari Web browser, the newspaper would be able to avoid paying Apple 30 percent of its revenue for subscriptions through the App Store.



The Financial Times application was highlighted in 2010 at the WWDC Apple Design Awards. The iPad application was recognized as one of the best pieces of iOS software, ranked based on design, technical excellence, innovation, quality, technology adoption and performance.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 142
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    This make a lot more sense.
  • Reply 2 of 142
    jcozjcoz Posts: 251member
    Good for everyone involved.
  • Reply 3 of 142
    I still think web-apps are a good way to go for news sites and should be developed first so all tablets can access them before making specific OS clients.



    I wish apple would start updating their web app database again and add one to the default iOS but I guess that's never going to happen.
  • Reply 4 of 142
    kotatsukotatsu Posts: 1,010member
    Amazon will still have to remove the Kindle web link from the Kindle app, and will no doubt be hit with lots of negative reviews on iTunes for doing so.
  • Reply 5 of 142
    nw3227nw3227 Posts: 14member
    Shouldn't the first sentence end: "no longer requires that subscriptions purchased outside of an iOS application have the same price or GREATER"?
  • Reply 6 of 142
    fyngyrzfyngyrz Posts: 61member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post


    Amazon will still have to remove the Kindle web link from the Kindle app, and will no doubt be hit with lots of negative reviews on iTunes for doing so.



    For all of us who are concerned with Apple's ridiculous behavior here, it is important to remember NOT to "upgrade" (downgrade) the Kindle app until all this settles out and Apple stops acting like a selfish child.
  • Reply 7 of 142
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jcoz View Post


    Good for everyone involved.



    Yeah, everyone except consumers. This new ability to jack up prices is not good for consumers.
  • Reply 8 of 142
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,907member
    So this should end any interest by the DoJ, FTC and EU in Apple's in-app purchase policies. I'm not really too surprised Apple found there were more negatives than positives with their previous in-app rules.
  • Reply 9 of 142
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,258member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by newagemac View Post


    Yeah, everyone except consumers.



    How so? You now have a choice. You can go the easy route with in-app purchases and maybe have a little more privacy protection and pay a little more. Or you can save a little money, do a little more work, and maybe have a little less privacy.



    Why is the choice not better for consumers than the previous plan?
  • Reply 10 of 142
    dlcmhdlcmh Posts: 43member
    For me, the native FT app is more a pleasure to use compared to the web app. I hope FT decides to continue developing their iOS app.
  • Reply 11 of 142
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post


    Amazon will still have to remove the Kindle web link from the Kindle app, and will no doubt be hit with lots of negative reviews on iTunes for doing so.



    Yeah, well, who cares.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fyngyrz View Post


    For all of us who are concerned with Apple's ridiculous behavior here, it is important to remember NOT to "upgrade" (downgrade) the Kindle app until all this settles out and Apple stops acting like a selfish child.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by newagemac View Post


    Yeah, everyone except consumers.



    Consumers will be fine, and Apple isn't the one acting like a selfish child here. In the first case, Amazon and others aren't going to be able to pass on the cost of participating in the iOS ecosystem to consumers without generating a negative backlash against themselves, not Apple. Secondly, Apple had to tighten these rules to prevent cheating on the App Store revenue sharing that all developers agree to, which I think they've successfully done by restricting this to "approved content": so game developers aren't going to be able to give away free empty "shell games" and then sell level unlocking on their web sites, sticking Apple and other developers with the cost. This will end up costing Amazon some money, but they'll be fine, and it's only fair that they share the ecosystem costs with other, typically smaller, companies and developers.
  • Reply 12 of 142
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    I think it depends. The OS offers a lot of APIs that a web app cannot. I don't think APple is going to highlight web applications, not because they take away from the App Store, but because most developers developing web apps also have alternative ones for other platforms. Apple doesn't want to give the other platforms advertising.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by theguycalledtom View Post


    I still think web-apps are a good way to go for news sites and should be developed first so all tablets can access them before making specific OS clients.



    I wish apple would start updating their web app database again and add one to the default iOS but I guess that's never going to happen.



  • Reply 13 of 142
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


    How so? You now have a choice. You can go the easy route with in-app purchases and maybe have a little more privacy protection and pay a little more. Or you can save a little money, do a little more work, and maybe have a little less privacy.



    Why is the choice not better for consumers than the previous plan?



    Because higher prices is bad for consumers. Why would a consumer prefer that publishers jack up their prices? I don't see how you can say higher prices for consumers is a good thing unless you are a publisher.
  • Reply 14 of 142
    sulissulis Posts: 1member
    This doesn't affect the main problem that publishers have with Apple - the loss of subscriber details. They used the price issue as a smokescreen, but the FT has openly stated that it's the subscriber details issue that is the dealbreaker for them- ie. the value they get from selling on all our details.
  • Reply 15 of 142
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 16 of 142
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TBell View Post


    I think it depends. The OS offers a lot of APIs that a web app cannot. I don't think APple is going to highlight web applications, not because they take away from the App Store, but because most developers developing web apps also have alternative ones for other platforms. Apple doesn't want to give the other platforms advertising.



    Slightly off topic but something that isn't getting enough attention yet are the iCloud APIs Apple announced.



    With delta Apple iOS and App Store updates I have to assume that the documents syncing and iCloud apps syncing user data will also be deltas. My only wish is that they will allow more transparent syncing between apps the way iMessages work. For example. If I buy Angry Birds on my iPad, iPhone and Mac I want to be able to pick up the game and have my game play history match between devices.





    PS: I see no addition to the backgrounding APIs or Fast App Switcher, for which I'm mostly glad.
  • Reply 17 of 142
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 970member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by newagemac View Post


    Because higher prices is bad for consumers. Why would a consumer prefer that publishers jack up their prices? I don't see how you can say higher prices for consumers is a good thing unless you are a publisher.



    The original policy would effectively have meant higher prices for everybody. Non idevice users would have subsidizing apples cut because the prices in and out of the Eco system would have been in lockstep to be offered within it.



    So now you can get your content ex-ecosystem, or if the app offers it, an in app purchase which can be set indepedently of the price elsewhere. It's up to you how you lay for it. Believe it or not, choice is a good thing.



    Obviously the original scheme was not viable, and steve blinked.
  • Reply 18 of 142
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 970member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    How many times does this have to happen before Apple simply stops making such blunders in the first place?



    Apple have had few missteps in recent memory. I can only really think of a handful.



    1. iPod hifi lol

    2. This in app policy

    3. Button less shuffle

    4. That app compilation things.

    5. iBooks thus far



    Btw, where's the chanting about 70% of something is better than 100% of nothing?
  • Reply 19 of 142
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by newagemac View Post


    Because higher prices is bad for consumers. Why would a consumer prefer that publishers jack up their prices? I don't see how you can say higher prices for consumers is a good thing unless you are a publisher.



    I can say it and I'm not a publisher or a developer.



    You see, I happen to believe that people should pay for what they use - and that is ultimately what's best for the market and the consumer.



    People like Amazon are asking for access to the iOS ecosystem but don't want to pay for it. In the end, that could end up hurting consumers.
  • Reply 20 of 142
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    The market will decide the price.



    If publishers attempt to recoup Apple's 30% with a higher price, customers will either accept it or not. But at least normal free-market pricing is now possible on the platform. Those who prefer capitalism applaud this move.





    More interesting is that this is not the first time that Apple has instigated a counter-productive policy and later woken up:



    Apple Blinks. Flash Tools Now Allowed

    http://whydoeseverythingsuck.com/201...w-allowed.html



    How many times does this have to happen before Apple simply stops making such blunders in the first place?



    So they are supposed to be perfect? No one else has ever done anytHing like the App store before. Every move Amazonor Google makes in this area only occurs after Apple does. When you are a pioneer, you will make mistakes. Apple listens to customers, content providers, and developers and fixes their mistakes when they are wrong. That is a good thing. Not ever making another mistake is impossible.
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