Apple has finally stopped insisting on taking a mandatory 30% cut of subscription prices from publishers who sell subscriptions within iPhone and iPad apps, Jordan Golson of MacRumors reports.Publishers are now free to sell subscriptions anywhere they like and then allow users to access that subscription in the app.
Apple is also allowing publishers to charge whatever price they want for subscriptions in-app to cover the 30% cut Apple will take.
Previously Apple told publishers it had to charge the same for in-app subscriptions that it charged for elsewhere. This meant a 30% hit on all sales.
This demand, which had been widely perceived as extortion within the publishing industry, has hindered Apple’s attempts to partner with publishers.
It has also driven many publishers, such as the Financial Times, to seek a way around Apple’s app empire. Two days ago, the FT launched an Apple-less app approach in which everything is delivered via HTML 5 without special downloads.
As Google’s Android operating system continues its meteoric rise in market share, and Amazon’s Kindle continues to boom, Apple will likely be forced to make other concessions like this to stay competitive. For the first two years after the iPhone was released, and so far in tablets, Apple had so much market share and so much power that publishers and other partners didn’t have any choice but to yield to its demands. Increasingly, however, there will be viable choices, and this will put pressure on Apple to either open up or become a niche player.
As Peter Kafka observes, of course, even Apple’s new rules aren’t exactly the embodiment of fair and openness: In what appears to be a “if we can’t have it, you can’t, either” move, Apple will reject any publisher app that has contains a “Buy” button leading the user to an external (non-Apple) store. This rule will likely set off another round of bitching among publishers.
In any event, publishers can celebrate this one. It’s a small concession, but it’s a concession.
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