Apple backs down over App Store subscription model
Apple has revised its policy on In-App Subscriptions in the iTunes App Store, dropping the requirement for publishers to offer the same deal within iTunes as they offer outside it.
When Apple introduced In-App Subscriptions, in February, it specified two things: first, that Apple would get 30 per cent of any content publishers sell within their app and, second, that if a publisher offered a subscription or purchase option outside their app, then they must offer the same deal within the app, at the same price or less.
At the time several commentators, me included, warned that this could drive quality publishers away from the app store. Others, notably John Gruber, whose blog is a must-read for Apple watchers, defended the move.
I wrote: “[Apple’s] marketing push for the App Store has centred on the variety of applications on offer. Why implement a policy that will force good developers elsewhere? It’s this problem that could force Apple to change its mind…”
Four months on, Apple has indeed changed its mind. While publishers will still be required to give Apple 30 per cent of any subscription revenue from within its app, there is no longer an insistence on matching the price of subscriptions offered outside the app. Furthermore, publishers are no longer required to offer a subscription within an app just because they offer one outside.
How this works in practice might take some time to determine but it sounds like good news for companies such as Spotify, which will be able to continue offering its subscription service outside its app, and Amazon, which can carry on selling Kindle ebooks through its website.
It’s a sensible move by Apple and one that should ensure that the App Store continues to flourish.