Apple backs down on subscription terms, but is it enough?

Apple Inc. has changed its App Store policies that previously said media app developers could only offer content for purchase through iTunes, Dow Jones Newswires reported today.

The iPad maker also deleted language that required media outlets to offer paid content at the same or better rates than what they offer elsewhere, which has made it impossible for the companies to offer special deals or even regular prices at rates less than what is offered through Apple apps. It has also removed requirements that subscription-based content must be simultaneously made available as a purchase within the app, when it’s also available in a separate store.

However, Apple will continue to reject any publisher app that contains a “Buy” button that leads a user to a point of purchase outside of Apple.

Apple, which takes 30 percent of the revenue from all media purchases or subscription transactions that take place through its platform, could be recognising that it cannot be so controlling, especially when Google takes just a 10 percent cut of in-app subscriptions via its One Pass system on Android devices, Adotas pointed out. Amazon’s Kindle is also continuing to see success, and the Nook Color is making a name for itself, among many other tablet devices.

Previously, media companies have complained Apple’s large cut would put them out of business, and the rules have also come under scrutiny from federal antitrust regulators.

These changes, which go into effect at the end of the month, could vastly change how newsmedia publishers and content vendors do business with the technology giant as they look to create new revenue streams across mobile platforms. For one thing, it will allow them to raise prices on content they sell through iTunes so Apple’s 30 percent cut doesn’t eat up their revenue both via the app and everywhere else the content is offered.

But there’s a catch.

Apple has also stated there can be “no button or external link to the app to purchase the approved content.”

“You could argue it’s Apple trying to prevent any fragmentation of the user experience of purchasing content via its App Store ecosystem. But you could also say it’s a revenue protection measure, via a sneaky trick that means consumers have to jump through a few extra clicky hoops to get content this way,” Fast Company explained.

And the changes aren’t exactly the epitome of fair, but a move closer to a “if we can’t have it, you can’t, either,” mentality, Business Insider stated.

In recent weeks, Apple has also eased up on another major sticking point with media publishers: its willingness to give publishers subscriber data when subscribers signed up through iTunes. However, there was a catch there, too.

Subscriber data has always been imperative to publishers’ businesses, especially newspapers and magazines, so many are taking the deal Apple has offered: no, not giving them the information; rather, adding a pop-up that asks consumers if they are willing to share their names, e-mails and addresses with publishers. According to Fortune, about 50 percent agree.

Earlier this week at its WWDC 2011 event, Apple also announced Apple Newsstand, a centralised place where all newspaper and magazine subscriptions will be stored. The newsstand is populated as soon as a user purchases news apps.

Image: Apple Newsstand

This entry was posted in Apple, e-books, Magazines, Mobile apps, newspapers, Subscriptions, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

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