Earlier this year Apple unveiled a new service allowing app developers to charge for in-app subscription content. The platform created a uniform way for newspaper and magazine publishers, subscription music and video services, and other companies charge for content using iTunes. But the move caused a bit of a stink, because it turns out that many publishers had been charging iOS users for subscriptions for years and weren’t too happy about Apple’s insistence that they start using the new system and fork over 30 percent of all revenue to Apple.

That’s caused some developers to simply avoid the App Store altogether. Just a few days ago the Financial Times, for instance, launched a new web app for subscribers instead of a native iOS app in order to get around Apple’s restrictions.

Now it looks like Apple is taking a step back from its earlier requirements though. MacRumors notes that the latest App Store guidelines are missing a number of items:

  • There’s no more requirement that in-app subscriptions be the same price  or lower than subscriptions offered outside the App Store. This means developers can charge 30 percent more if you subscribe through the App Store, for instance, to make up for lost revenue, while offering Android or web users a lower price.
  • Apple is again letting developers sell subscription-based apps without using Apple’s in-app payments at all. The only requirement is that developers can’t include links to pay for those subscriptions in the app. So if you’ve already paid for a Netflix subscription, you can login and use the Netflix iPhone app. Netflix just can’t ask you to sign up for a new subscription unless the company uses Apple’s system.

Some folks will likely continue to find fault with that second stipulation — but the fact that Apple has eased up on insisting developers only use the company’s payment system altogether leaves me with the impression that Apple execs may care almost as much about providing a consistent, easy payment experience for customers as they do about skimming 30 percent of all revenue off the top. Of course, if they really cared more about user experience than making money, then perhaps they’d reduce their share of the revenue split altogether.


Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...