By Stephen Schenck | June 9, 2011 4:24 PM
Apple’s always struggled with the control it exerts over iOS apps, wanting to maintain quality and ensure profits while trying to please users and developers alike. One policy that’s caused some controversy has been the company’s position on apps that rely upon subscription services, announced for the App Store this past winter. The issue revolves around how those sales are offered, and how they’re paid for. Apple just revisited its policy, relaxing its rules in a way that should mean the arrival of more premium subscription content for iPhone users to enjoy.
The problem has been that Apple takes a 30% cut of transactions conducted through it. As per the rules it laid out when announcing App Store subscriptions, if an app relied on subscriptions that were sold outside of it – something along the lines of Netflix (though Netflix scored itself an exception to these rules) – there also needed to be an option to buy the subscription from within the app as well. Since those subscriptions couldn’t be priced any higher than they’d be outside the app, any bought directly would mean a big drop in profits for the content holder. These rules were to go into effect at the end of June.
Now Apple’s changed course, saying that developers are free not to offer in-app subscription sales (and avoid Apple’s cut of their profits). Content holders making more money off subscriptions, without having to charge users any more, should lead to both greater availability of subscription content, while possibly leading to lower prices for users.