updated 09:30 am EDT, Thu June 9, 2011
Drops subscription pricing rules entirely
Apple has suddenly and without fanfare thrown out its App Store guidelines on in-app subscription pricing, reports note. Later this month Apple was set to begin enforcing a recent policy on subscriptions, requiring that any outside app subscription options be matched by in-app ones. Of special worry to publishers, though, was an insistence that in-app options cost the "same price or less," even though Apple claims a 30 percent cut of App Store revenue. The policy drew the scrutiny of the FTC.
Newly-modified App Store rules not only omit any rules on pricing, but also the demand to have an in-app option. "Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content," the replacement guidelines read. "Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app."
The company may have decided to back down for a number of reasons, such as immediately quashing any motivation for an FTC investigation. It was also encountering heavy resistance from publishers, entities it needs as a halo for the iPad and the upcoming Newsstand feature in iOS 5. Another question was enforcement, since the previous rules might have potentially kicked out major apps like Netflix or Hulu.