Apple has finally, formally announced its subscription service for apps. This formal announcement means that any app that provides a digital subscription outside an app must also do so inside the app.

The announcement to day basically comes down to this. If a service provides a method to receive a digital subscription on an iOS device (think Zinio, The Daily, The Times of London) that the option to subscribe needs to be offered inside the app at the same or lower prices. To clear one thing up, this does not mean that print subscription prices need to apply to digital subscriptions. While I’d love that rule, as a consumer, that would be overstepping Apple’s bounds a bit.

One thing to note is that this doesn’t just apply to digital print publications like magazines and newspapers. This also applies to music services like Rdio, Pandora, and Rhapsody. And it applies to video services like Netflix and Hulu+. We’ve reached out for comment from some of these companies to get their reaction.

The result is that services like the above will need to provide a method to subscribe inside the app as well as outside the app. And Apple wants their 30% cut when subscriptions are done inside the app. To ensure that publishers don’t just pass the 30% extra onto the user, Apple has noted that the subscription prices inside the app be the same or lower than those offered outside the app.

If a service provides a subscription outside the app, and doesn’t deliver the subscription in the app, they seem to be excluded from this requirement. The one key phrase from the Apple announcement is “Apple does require that if a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app.” That does set the likes of Wired Magazine free to continue to only offer their magazine at an inflated per issue price. Wired offers their magazine at $3.99 per issue within the app while routinely offers the print edition at $10/year. But they don’t offer a digital subscription anywhere else.

Posted in: Blog

Tagged with: , , ,