Apple Launches App Store Subscription Plan

Kindle Apps
We told you a few weeks ago that Apple is tightening control over apps in their App Store that sell digital content. Today, Apple finally announced the details of its new subscription plan for content-based apps, including those that sell ebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The plan requires that these apps, such as Amazon’s Kindle app, sell content via Apple (at a 30% commission) in addition to their own platforms.

“Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

One part of Apple’s press release that I think will really have an effect on ereader apps like Kindle and Nook is this:

However, 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. In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.

So, first of all, Amazon won’t be able to charge more for books sold inside the app to offset Apple’s 30% tax. Secondly, apps will no longer be able to link to their associated websites. For example, right now if you want to buy a book in the Kindle app, you tap on a link that takes you to Amazon.com to make your purchase. It looks like that will no longer be permitted.

According to All Things Digital, apps have until June 30th to be in compliance with these rules.

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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