Earlier today, we reported that the Sony Reader app, which had been announced by the consumer electronics giant in November, had been rejected by Apple. Sony’s response to this rejection stated that Apple had “changed the way it enforces its rules” and the New York Times indicated (log-in required) that Apple may now be restricting users from accessing content purchased outside of apps. An Apple spokesperson refuted any such changes in a statement to All Things Digital:
“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” company spokesperson Trudy Miller told me. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
While this is certainly more flexible for users since it will require apps to offer the ability to make purchases of content within an app that can be already be purchased through other methods, it is a marked change that has the potential to push some companies out of the App Store.
With every purchase in the App Store, Apple takes 30% of the revenue – this applies to in-app purchases as well. If, for example, Amazon were to sell its Kindle ebooks as an in-app purchase, it would need to yield 30% of that revenue to Apple. Currently, Amazon does not need to share ebook revenue with Apple since all purchases are handled directly through Amazon’s web site. If Apple were to force this issue, would Amazon and other retailers accept this 30% revenue sharing model or simply cease to allow their ebooks and other content to be accessed within their iOS apps? Or would they add a 30% surcharge for in-app purchases to make up for Apple’s cut?
Technically Apple’s Developer Guidelines, which were made public in September, already restrict items purchased both within and outside of apps:
11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected
11.3 Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the application will be rejected
However, nothing in the Purchasing and Currencies section of those guidelines stipulate the requirement described to All Things Digital by Apple.