updated 09:55 am EST, Tue February 22, 2011
Leaves fate of apps like Readability in question
Developers should be safe from new in-app subscription rules if their titles involve software as a service (SaaS), claims Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps," he says in an iPhone e-mail, sent in response to a question from a contract developer. The person noted that most of his work involves apps which are nominally free but involve logging into private data and/or services.
Concerns have been raised that subscription rules could be used to clamp down on apps for a variety of services such as Dropbox and SalesForce. In fact a Readability app has been already been rejected from the App Store, despite protests that the articles the developer strips down represent a service and not subscription content. The company has also complained that Apple wants a 30 percent cut from revenue already split between Readability and publishers.
Apple could be forced to revise App Store rules regardless. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are probing possible antitrust violations, as Apple policies require publishers to provide "the same or better offer" in-app for any outside method of iOS subscription payment. The convenience of in-app payments is likely to heavily favor Apple, which claims a 30 percent cut of all in-app subscription revenue even though content may not be hosted on its servers.