Jobs speaks: Subscription rules don’t apply to Software as a Service apps

With all of the subscription hubbub over the last two weeks, it was only a matter of time until someone tried taking up their case with the CEO himself, via email. We’ve heard time-and-time again that Apple’s subscription model is currently aimed at publishers, and not at Software as a Service (SaaS) type applications. Applications like Netflix still exist on the App Store, but others, like Readability, have started to have some submission problems. Readability was rejected because of the subscription terms specifically, so of course the SaaS crowd are a little paranoid.

Is Readability considered a SaaS by Apple? It’s starting to look like they aren’t.

The Email

So, finally someone decided it was time to get an official comment from someone in Cupertino. A MacRumors reader sent an email to Steve Jobs,

Hello Steve,??As a full time iOS developer, I am concerned (and confused) withe the new App Store guideline regarding “Apps offering subscriptions” (section 11.12).??Most of the iOS apps I have developed, as a contractor for other businesses, have been free apps that had login screens to allow the user access to some amount of private data. and/or service. These businesses have all been well established companies that sell some kind of service to their customers (Software As a Service companies) and the iOS app was merely another “portal” for their users to access their data/services (in many times, in a limited i.e. “mobile” fashion)…. for example; SalesForce. I am concerned that most of these businesses will choose to not develop an iOS app for their customers if the IAP & subscription policy was in place.??Would these type’s of free apps be still be allowed in the App Store or will they now be expected to use IAP?

And the Jobsian reply, business as usual,

We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.

Sent from my iPhone

So, despite Jobs’ Twitter-eqsue reply, there’s still some concern about the new App Store policy. What makes Readability a publisher and Dropbox a SaaS application? A lot of people want that clearly defined before they continue to work on their applications. There’s no point in putting more hours into developing a SaaS application if there’s a concern that the application might get yanked during the approval process.

Where does this leave us?

It seems to me that we’re back in that vague, not-really-defined world again, where Apple hasn’t clearly defined the rules for subscription applications. Given the beating they’re taking in the press, it’s probably only a matter of time until we see some clearer answers from Apple.

But, until then I’m with John Gruber. Readability isn’t an SaaS application at all. They serve content, and they’re taking money from users to serve up that content. If that’s not a subscription as defined by Apple, then what is?

Article Via MacRumors
Photo Credit: AnotherHikikomori (via iDesk)

Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio