Apple has reportedly began cracking down on apps that feature subscriptions Apple considers to be unreasonable, claims 9to5Mac.
The report cites a rejection email sent to one developer saying that the price of in-app purchases do not “do not reflect the value of the features and content” on offer. It also calls it a “rip-off to customers.”
The report notes that:
“We were initially skeptical about the veracity of this email given some of the wording choices, but looking through Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, it’s possible to find the term “rip-off” at least twice, such as in section 3, where Apple states that ‘we won’t distribute apps and in-app purchase items that are clear rip-offs.'”
The unnamed developer who shared the notice was reportedly sent it by accident. They worked with Apple’s app review team, and were able to get the app subscription price restored.
Apple’s email to developers notes that “Customers expect the App Store to be a safe and trusted marketplace” for buying digital goods. As a result, it’s important that apps price fairly and offer utility in exchange for the money they charge. The email continues that developers should re-price their apps accordingly, and then resubmit them for approval.
Value for money in the App Store
It would be interesting to know how Apple gauges value for money. For the most part, apps are significantly cheaper than software was in the days before the App Store. While there are a few apps with extremely high prices, for the most part prices are reasonable. When apps do charge more, it’s often because they have niche appeal and must therefore charge a few customers a lot, rather than charging a large customer base comparatively little.
It’s certainly an interesting conundrum, though. As with every other part of Apple’s App Store scrutiny, it makes approval decisions based on how to make the App Store a high quality experience. That necessitates cutting down on scams or questionable subscriptions that may seek to fool users.
At the same time, depending on how widely this pricing concern is applied, it could be viewed as suppressing the price developers can charge for their products. That sounds like a level of control that certain devs might take issue with — even if Apple, ultimately, has the same broad goal of selling as many units of each app (and its in-app purchases) as possible.
A recent Sensor Tower report noted that subscriptions apps have boomed over the past year. Another recent report suggests that the average person in the U.S. spends $20.78 a month on app subscriptions.