∞ Apple responds to Sony in-app purchase report

Apple on Tuesday responded to reports that it has changed its policies regarding in-app purchases from the App Store.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]”We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Apple spokesperson, Trudy Muller, told The Loop. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

Earlier today Sony said its e-reader app had been refused by Apple. Sony said they were told by Apple that “from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple.”

That appears to be only partly correct. Apple will require Sony to make those purchases available from within the app as well as outside the app before the app is accepted.

It would seem that Amazon will have to make similar changes to its app as well.

  • Anonymous

    that’s a weird requirement, but basically they’re saying if you multi-device content, you can sync into the an app, but you can’t make an app whose store is dedicated to just the iphone app.

  • John W Baxter

    Just a note: if Apple does bar the Kindle app from iOS devices, I will remove the iBooks app from the same devices. (Not much of a threat, as I have purchased one book in iBooks.)

    • Anonymous

      Does it matter what you intend to do or you really think you matter in the scheme of thing.

      • John W Baxter

        Clearly my puny threat doesn’t matter to Apple, as I hinted in the parenthetical remark (which was wrong–make that two books). Unless a sufficient number of others have the same idea.

  • Sean

    What’s the source of this Apple quote? Why isn’t there a link?

    • Because it’s a communication (probably email) between the Loop and Apple. Apple never publishes (in public) these developer announcements.

  • winc06

    “That appears to be only partly correct. Apple will require Sony to make those purchases available from within the app as well as outside the app before the app is accepted.”

    Am I the only one who has no idea what this says? What is it that the Sony app does or does not do that Apple does not like?

    • Wordsmatter

      The app is Sony Reader, which is yet another app for reading electronic books. The point of the app from Sony’s perspective seems to be to help Sony to sell those books.

      Previously, companies that didn’t want to sell through the in-app purchasing mechanism—either because they didn’t want to give Apple 30% of the revenues or because they wanted to maintain a direct connection to the customer—would offer a link that would launch Mobile Safari to complete the actual purchase. The user would then have to return to the original app to actually read the book.

      Apple likely sees this as a threat to the user experience as well as a nifty revenue stream. They are now requiring app makers to make these purchases available through the in-app mechanism if they’re available outside of the App Store. Since the in-app mechanism is easier for customers, a significant portion of the purchases are likely to be made this way. This frustrates the revenue and customer relationship goals (above) of the app publisher.

      I think [i.e., not fact checked] that Apple’s agreement further prevents sellers from charging more for the same item within the app store than without, so Sony (and Amazon, et al) wouldn’t be allowed to sell a book for $10 on their web site and $13 via in-app purchase in order to recoup the 30% cut that Apple takes.

      This is definitely a change in policy if not in the published Developer Terms or Guidelines, as witnessed by the Kindle app which does not yet adhere to the new policy. It also looks like a naked power grab and it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out.

      • winc06

        Thanks. All is clear now.

  • Gustav

    This is predatory behaviour, especially considering Apple has allowed this all along. You can’t say “the developer agreements haven’t changed” and “we are NOW enforcing this rule” and maintain integrity. Apple might land themselves in hot water over this.

    Also, does this apply to more than books?