Apple Updates Rules For In-App Subscriptions

It was only a month ago that I posted my story on BeamItDown Software closing up shop because of Apple’s in-app subscription requirements. At the time, Apple’s policy read:

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.

I made no qualms about my feelings regarding this policy. I felt it was greedy and took advantage of the powerful position Apple had in the iOS environment. Taking a 30% cut for in-app purchases of content you are not housing or providing bandwidth for is insane.

Apparently something or someone has helped Apple change their mind on this policy. The revised policy now reads:

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.

AppleInsider had a good observation as to why Apple may have had a change-of-mind:

Apple’s change of opinion comes soon after one prominent content provider, the Financial Times, decided to create an HTML5-optimized website rather than submit to Apple’s in-app subscription rules and give the company a 30 percent cut

I have to wonder if this was one of many publications that refused to provide their content in an iPad specific format because of the 30% gouging Apple required. Maybe this correlates with the Newsstand iOS 5 app demoed at the WWDC 2011 keynote on Monday. Regardless of the catalyst, I am happy Apple has revised the policy to be more developer-friendly.

Thanks to MacRumors for publishing this finding.