Good News, Kindle Users! Apple Changes Controversial In-App Subscriptions Guidelines

Good News, Kindle Users! Apple Changes Controversial In-App Subscriptions Guidelines

Apple’s In-App Subscriptions policy hasn’t always been favourable with magazine and newspaper publishers, forcing some to avoid the App Store altogether… but a recent change to the guidelines may lead to an influx of new content on our iOS devices.

Previously, Apple’s guidelines on In-App Subscriptions forced publishers to charge the “same price or less” than subscriptions outside the app. Now there are no guidelines on price at all, and Apple has eliminated the requirement that external subscriptions must also be offered as an in-app purchase.

This means publishers can now offer subscriptions at any price they wish, and are no longer required to offer the same subscriptions within their apps than those they sell outside of the App Store. The only stipulation Apple does demand is that publishers do not provide customers with a “buy” button in their applications that links to an external subscription page and circumvents the App Store.

A copy of the new the new terms, obtained by MacRumors, states:

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.

App Store Subscriptions were introduced this February and lead to a plethora of digital newspapers and magazines arriving on iOS devices. However, Apple’s tight control over in-app purchases and subscriptions has led to controversy that has forced some publications, such as the Financial Times which recently launched a web app, to avoid the App Store altogether.

Changes due to do into effect on June 30th were the most controversial, requiring publishers to offer their contact at the same price or less than it is offered outside of the app:

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.

Before these guidelines had chance to come into effect and send too many publishers running in the opposite direction, however, Apple has quietly updated its policy.

While these changes will certainly lead to a larger selection of content for us consumers, they’re also guaranteed to lead to higher prices as publishers attempt to claw back the 30% cut that Apple takes from all subscriptions. They will also enable existing video and music subscription services to remain in the App Store without having to offer in-app purchases.

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  • Hampus

    Of course, if the subscription is more expensive in the app (specially if it’s enough to offset Apples 30% cut) or if an in-app subscription isnt even available the app will end up getting a lot of negative reviews.

  • Doug Bursnall

    That’s good. if apple processes you pay, if not you don’t. may lead to cheaper prices as direct subs can offset in app subs.
    Hope the change is not too late.

  • cheesy11

    i gave up on reading a while ago

  • aardman

    Probably a good idea.  Apple needs to remember how they make their money:  By selling devices or selling content?

  • CharliK

    That’s the way the rule always was. The only change is that now Apple isn’t forcing any pricing rules. If you really want to charge more in the app go for it. 

    The thing is, this really wasn’t as controversial as the blogs want to make it. Perhaps 5 major apps called foul but places like Amazon, Netflix etc were silent as were most little guys. 

    And there’s no proof that anyone else was going to pull out or that they will charge different amounts now that they can (but it fits their egos that they have the right if they want to use it). Making almost every article about this, and the comments on them, much ado about perhaps nothing. 

  • quietstorms

    I may be the only one who doesn’t like this change. I don’t plan to buy any subscriptions outside of the App Store so that publishers can sell my data to advertisers and I’m also not paying a higher price for the version purchased through iTunes. I’m guessing a lot of people won’t as well.

    To the publishers: 

    I’ll be quite happy in getting my news from your site for free or from content aggregators (again for free) if you fit the fit in with the statement above. 

  • OrignalAppleBasher

    It’s very rare for Apple to take a step backwards, but I hope they have realized that their money greed isn’t always good for the other parties involved. 

    When will Apple put their ecosystem before their profits? 

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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