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Apple sets June 30th deadline for in-app subscriptions

updated 01:25 pm EST, Tue February 15, 2011

Clock starts ticking for Amazon, Netflix, others

The deadline for apps to implement equal in-app subscription options is June 30th, a memo reveals. Sent to publishers earlier this year, the note mentions that apps must soon incorporate a new In App Purchase API. The June 30th deadline is in fact said to be a "grace period" for existing apps, implying that new ones must already have in-app subscriptions running.

While Apple is now allowing apps to offer content on a subscription basis instead of charging per download, it is also demanding any outside payment options be matched by in-app options. The policy applies not just to newspapers and magazines, but also to music, video and any other content offered via subscription. Many companies will therefore have to upgrade apps and change business models in the next few months, including Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.

A major concern for the industry will likely be the fact that Apple is claiming 30 percent of the revenue for any in-app payments. Using a web portal to sell subscriptions lets a publisher keep all of the money, but is less convenient. This may skew revenue in Apple's favor, and potentially lead to higher prices in order to compensate. Apple is moreover banning any app that links to an outside payment site.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Then change your price from $10 to $13, for example. Then make it real simple for people to claim a coupon code if they subscribe from your web site. Boom, $10 for those who go to the web, $10 from the ITMS, with $3 charge for Apple.

  1. kimgh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Goodbye, Amazon

    If Apple forces Amazon to pull the plug, they are shooting themselves in the foot. I use my iPad as my Kindle reader. If the Kindle app goes, I'll buy another Kindle before I'll buy another iPad.

  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: kimgh

    I completely agree. I can't wait till Steve Jobs kicks the bucket and have someone on the helm minus the reality distortion field effect and realise this is a bad move.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not the Kindle app. No current sub support.

    The kindle app does not support magazine or newspaper subscriptions so it will not affect it.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yes Amazon


  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I just re-read the damn statement, and its even worse. Steve says:

    "Our philosophy is simple -- when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing," reads a prepared statement from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app."

    We break this down into many parts.

    One, somehow if I read in the Washington Post that they have an iPad app, I download the app, and set up a subscription, apple seems to think they've "brought" a new subscriber. I don't quite get that concept. All they did was provide a way for me to pay for it, but they didn't bring me in. Oh well.

    Two, it isn't "If you have a link in the app to subscribe to a service, you need to give the user the capability for the user to do that through the app store too." (Somehow, I guess, that appstore link in the app is Apple bringing in those new customers).

    What it actually says is "If you have any way on the web to set up a subscription for content, you MUST add a capability in the app to get that subscription through Apple".

    And forget the coupons, for that "equal or better" offer just kills that.

    I guess Apple is becoming more and more like the money-greedy company that is Microsoft.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Goodbye, Amazon

    If Apple forces Amazon to pull the plug, they are shooting themselves in the foot. I use my iPad as my Kindle reader. If the Kindle app goes, I'll buy another Kindle before I'll buy another iPad.

    Then I think what you're saying is "Goodbye, Apple"

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You know how people started chanting about sending money directly to musical artists/bands rather than buy CDs or music, because they get so little of it.

    So do we start now pushing for people to buy from the periodical site itself, not through the iPad app, so that those producing the actual content actually can take the money that they earned, rather than giving Apple a 30% cut for handling a transaction.

    Oh, and this isn't like the MacAppStore, where you can opt to let Apple sell your apps, and take the cut for processing. You MUST let Apple sell and take their cut, regardless of your resources and capabilities to perform that task.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Did you notice Apple waited until they have such a large share of the market before enforcing these draconian rules? They use these people as publicity for pushing people to buy an iPad ("You can read your magazines and books on it!"), then, when they've got all those people hooked, they turn around and basically force the app makers into a revenue sharing scam. What are they going to do, all just dump their apps and subscribers?

    Any that do will call them scared and living in the old days of publishing, not realizing the new markets.

    I would just love to see how many fanboys would be OK with this if it was a Microsoft idea. Maybe Apple next can charge 30% from all internet etailers for anyone purchasing using Safari.

  1. facebook_Terrin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011



    I am confused. How does this apply to Amazon? Amazon largely sells books for the Kindle. There is no subscription, merely a sale.

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