Apple rethinks in-app subscription pricing

Apple has removed a controversial clause from its developer agreement which restricted how much companies could charge for in-app purchases or subscriptions.

The policy, which was announced in February this year, said that anyone selling app-specific content through any mechanism other than the in-app purchase button had to be the same price or cheaper than the Apple-delivered content.

Enforcement of the new policy was due to come into effect at the end of June 2011 but several high-profile defectors, including the Financial Times, may have contributed to Apple's change of heart.

The original clause read:

Apps can read or play approved content (magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video) that is sold outside of the app, for which Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues, provided that the same content is also offered in the app using IAP at the same price or less than it is offered outside the app. This applies to both purchased content and subscription

The new policy, as unearthed by Mac Rumours, is:

Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app.

So publishers can charge whatever they like for subscription services as long as they don't link out to those services from within the app. And for once Apple doesn't demand a cut.

It's a major policy change for Apple, but whether those developers and publishers who have jumped ship will get back on board at this late stage in the game remains to be seen.