Apple’s in-app subscription policy is about to begin rolling out on June 30th. The guidelines (11.13), up until today, made it pretty clear that developers who intended to allow customers to read or play content that is sold from somewhere other than Apple’s multiple online stores also had to make sure that they provided links to download the same content within Apple’s stores at the same, or lesser, price.
That came out a little complicated, so we’re going to try it again in a much simpler way. If you want to sell subscriptions to your magazine outside of the App Store at a discounted price, you would have to sell the same magazine on the App Store for the exact same discounted price. That’s what section 11.13 of the App Store Review Guideline states, and up until today it was expected that everyone, including major publishers, would adhere to that.
Today that changed.
Until today Section 11.13 read, :
[quote]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.
Today, Section 11.14 (previously 11.13) 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
That’s a pretty large difference. Previously you had to price match your offers both externally and on the App Store, but now, companies can offer up prices in Apple’s App Store at greater cost than they could previously. Many companies, especially large publishers, argued that they couldn’t survive life on the App Store because of the 30% tax Apple charged for every purchase. Up until today they had no choice, but as of this morning, these publishers could raise prices on the App Store, and still offer cheaper prices off of it, to cope with the 30% cut they’re giving Apple.
Great for publishers and content providers, not so great for Apple and consumers who rely on the simplicity of Apple’s App Store. Instead of managing all of our subscriptions through the App Store, we’re now going to be faced with having to price match with a publisher’s website instead of assuming prices on the App Store will be the same. Sure, it could saves us a couple of bucks heading to the publisher’s website, but it certainly makes maintaining subscriptions a little more difficult. So now, if we want to maintain our subscriptions through the apps on the App Store, we could find ourselves paying premiums for the experience.
Sure, studies have shown that Mac and iOS user are more willing to pay for software, but that doesn’t mean we appreciate being gouged because of it. I mean, now that publishers also have the right to ask us for our information upon subscription, shouldn’t they be making more than enough money selling our details to advertisers to make up for the cost? It works for Google.