Fantastic news for millions of Apple customers today as the company appears to have dropped the most harmful and anti-competitive parts of the iOS subscription rules it announced in February. Apps like Netflix and Rhapsody appear to be completely okay now. Ebook providers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble may be cleared to offer reader apps but without a link to purchase new books.
The new section 11.14 states that apps can play content "subscribed to or purchased outside of the app" as long as the app doesn't include a way for users to go directly from the app to the outside purchasing mechanism. That is, these apps can't have a "buy" button that takes users to an external subscription page.
According to these new guidelines, existing subscription services such as Netflix may continue to function without offering in-app purchases. Content providers are now also free to charge whatever price they wish. For example, they could offer in-app subscriptions with a premium to cover Apple's 30% cut for In-App Subscription payments.
This is a significant reversal from Apple's position in February, and it will have a major impact on the strategy of content providers regarding the App Store.
-Macrumors, June 9, 2011
UPDATE: I like Harry McCracken of Technologizer's take:
Apple’s approach to all this has been kinda melodramatic. Apple introduces scary, impossible-sounding new rule! Publishers grumble! Some publishers fall into line! Others don’t! Apple revises rule to make it less scary! But we may have arrived at a relatively happy ending. Some app companies will still be unhappy about not being permitted to make it truly easy to sell content outside of the In App Purchase mechanism. And some iOS users–me included–will wish that the rules were looser, period. But there should be an option here that every app developer can live with. Assuming that these rules stay in place…
-Technologizer, June 9, 2011
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