Apple recently revised its App Store Review
Guidelines to remove some of the most controversial rules governing
subscription apps and in-app purchases.
The changes come just weeks before the June 30th deadline by which
developers had to bring their existing apps into compliance with the in-app
purchasing rules announced in February.
Under the February rules, if developers wanted to use content purchased
outside of the app, they also had to offer the content for in-app purchase and
it had to be offered at the same price or less than it was offered elsewhere,
despite the fact that Apple takes a 30% cut.
Apps also could not link to external mechanisms that could be used to
purchase content for use in the app.
This meant that Amazon's vast library of digital books would have to be
offered for sale within their Kindle app but Amazon could not increase their
prices in order to compensate for Apple's 30% commission. Furthermore, the app could no longer link to
Amazon's website. Under the new rules,
developers are no longer required to offer in-app purchasing for all content
used in the app but they are free to charge any price if they do choose to do
so. However, the new rules still
prohibit developers from linking to external stores from within the app. Keeping with the Kindle app example, after
June 30th, Amazon will still have to remove their link from the Kindle app, but
Amazon is not forced to sell their books within the app, and if they do, they
can charge a premium to compensate for Apple's cut. Apple's revised policies notably came just
a few days after the Financial Times, which won an award last year for the
design of its iPad app, announced its new web-based app. The new app can be accessed through a browser,
allowing users to bypass Apple's app store altogether. The Financial Times didn't say that they
would be discontinuing their iOS app, but they encouraged their users to switch
to the web-based app immediately, stating that it would be the focus of their
development efforts going forward. With
Apple's revised policies, it is unclear whether other app developers will
follow FT's lead or if Apple's new rules will placate the discontented