09 JUN

Apple Backpedals on In-App Subscription Pricing

by Marianne Schultz
 

As reported by our sister site MacRumors early this morning, Apple has changed the pricing guidelines for in-app purchases that it first rolled out in February, removing a requirement that made selling content within apps much less appealing to publishers.

Previously, Apple required that publishers offer content via in-app purchase at the same or a lower price than available outside of the app. The updated App Store Review Guidelines now make no mention of such a requirement, a change that is certain to be welcomed by publishers looking to maintain profit margins on content sold through the App Store after Apple’s 30% cut.

The old language in the App Store Review Guidelines was as follows:

11.13 Apps can read or play approved content (magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video) that is sold outside of the app, for which Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues, provided that the same content is also offered in the app using IAP at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app. This applies to both purchased content and subscriptions.

This section now reads as follows, with section 11.14 providing additional clarification on content purchased outside of an app:

11.13 Apps that link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app, such as a “buy” button that goes to a web site to purchase a digital book, will be rejected

11.14 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. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app

Apple made this change quietly – no press release or other official announcement has been made about it. I’m not quite sure what prompted Apple to make this change but it’s definitely a good one for users of iOS devices who are sure to benefit from it as publishers move to make more content available within apps without pricing restrictions from Apple.

9 Comments

  1. Craig

    This is no real change. Apps like Kindle are still prohibited from linking to their own sites to sell content. All it means is that developers can charge 30% more to offset Apple’s confiscation of 30% of their revenue.

  2. Bubbles

    In other words, there IS a real change: Publishers can charge more for the in-App purchase.

  3. Brandon

    This doesn’t sound appealing to me at all.

  4. Gummy Bear

    This not favorable at all for buyer like us. Buy games & to unlocked every single things again by paying more in-app purchase.

  5. Sue

    If your iPad Kindle doesn’t have a link to Amazon, you may need to upgrade. Mine has a direct link where I can buy any eBook they sell!! FYI!

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  8. David

    I for one am very glad that Apple finally had some common sense. To expect content publishers that are offering access to their digital content through free iPhone apps to actually give 30% of their revenue to Apple for that privilege is just unacceptable. Apple does nothing as far as hosting the actual content on things such as e-books, television/movie streaming, etc. and so for them to take 30% of the revenue for doing basically nothing was just going to drive developers away from the platform, and in the long run, hurt the consumer far more than just “inconveniencing” them with having to download and subscribe through a website instead of through in-app purchases.

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