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Apple rejects Readability from App Store

updated 12:30 pm EST, Mon February 21, 2011

New subscription rules harm dev's business model

Apple has blocked a native Readability iOS app from appearing at the App Store, its developers say. The service removes ads and other distractions from webpages in a bid to make reading easier, using a business model that returns 70 percent of the revenue to publishers. Apple's rejection notice quotes circumvention of in-app subscription rules, made widespread just last week.

The Readability team complains that they are not selling any content, but rather a service attached to a monthly fee. The group further suggests that treating the service as a subscription would be devastating under Apple's current billing, as the company claims a 30 percent cut off all in-app purchases. Readability's payouts to publishers would therefore have to fall to 40 percent; alternately, the developer might take home only 10 percent.

Making the rejection more unusual is that Readability is in fact a significant Apple partner. The firm's technology is built into Safari, effectively making it official. Many third-party developers have likewise complained that it may be financially unfeasible to use the App Store's subscription system.

by MacNN Staff



  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The new Apple Tax

    So all outside webapps that have a pay model and want to provide customers with a native app are gonna be screwed out of the Apple tax too now?

    Mod me down but for many of these developers, what does Apple provide? They likely already have a working billing system, they provide the entire service infrastructure, Apple just hosts a maybe 10mb download and essentially posts a link to the app which gets lost after the first few days. Is it simply, "for 30% of most of your revenue, we will give you access to our captive audience"?

    I'm a big Mac fan (can no longer say Apple fan) but something just doesn't feel right about this stuff anymore.

  1. rytc

    Joined: Dec 1969



    and Apple itself is attempting to weasle out of paying tax in the US, seems like they're happy to tax everyone else but don't want to pay any tax themselves.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I hope Apple gets smacked down by the FTC and Justice Dept. for these shenanigans; and I say that as a shareholder. Otherwise, it may be time to start shedding some stock, as Apple seems firmly wedged up their own arses, intent on devaluing the App Store in favor of HTML5 apps not tied to the iOS platform.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Taking a bit out of the world

    Steve Jobs once said he wanted to 'make a dent in the world.' With moves like this, it's looking more like Apple is interested in taking a big monetary bite out of the world.

    There is, of course, another option, one that assumes a peculiar sort of animus on Apple's part. The tackiest of apps continue to get approved. All these app-killing moves have been against authors and publishers in word-based media, meaning periodicals, ebooks, or, in this case, websites that comment on news, sports, hobbies or professional issues--the typical fare of Instapaper readers.

    In the vast majority of cases, these aren't people who're making much money, which is why Readability is such a good idea. What peculiar sort of makes Apple think it has a right to grab 30% of what these people have earned, particularly when all Apple need do is approve yet another app among tens of thousands?

    Then again, given Apple's ties with Readability developers, maybe this is just another illustration of the clueless miss-coordination between departments that's troubled app approval since the start. Never ascribe to conspiracy anything that can be explained by stupidity.

    If Amazon's clever, and when it comes to the Kindle they've been quite clever, they'll exploit these blunders and quickly give their Kindle users full-featured Instapaper and Readability apps. I have both an iPhone and an aging Kindle 1. I much prefer reading Instapaper articles on that Kindle. I just missed the synching-back-to-servers abilities of the iPhone app. Give me that and my Kindle 1 will become a Kindle 3.

    Sure, Kindles and iPads aren't direct competitors. Kindles based on ePaper and selling for less than a third the price of iPads will never be able to do all an iPad can do. But for many of us, an iPhone/Kindle combination makes more sense, particularly since ebooks bought for a Kindle can display on virtually any platform. All Amazon need do is give us some work-a-day apps for the Kindle: productivity tools and feature-rich readers such as Instapaper and Readability. And the more Kindles are read and carried about, the more likely we are to buy those ebooks Amazon wants to sell us.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Possible end run

    A few more thoughts on this. It looks like Readability could be used as an end run around Apple's subscription service in one way. If you were to add articles from a service that is normally subject to Apple's subscription tax, say The NY Times for example, you could get that content without Apple getting its "fair" share.

    So I guess it kind of makes sense? But it also shows that Apple doesn't care who pays the 30%, it just wants its money.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I wish Steve was dead

    NOW buried in his iCoffin

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011


    comment title

    Payout to publishers? Why would you give then a single cent? If websites decide to not offer a premium version of their site with no ads, they don't deserve a penny from ad blocking techniques. Period. It's not illegal to make an ad blocker without permission from the site who's ads your blocking. I'm happy you got rejected, you don't deserve a spot in the App Store.

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