Apple Starting to See the Light – Backs Off Apple Tax

There is an old proverb that says, “He who laughs last, laughs longest.” And I guess one could say that today, with the announcement of Apple’s reversal on their in-app subscription rules, the publishing community got the last laugh.   But they’re not laughing all the way to the bank over it.

Since Apple’s February decree, publishers around the world have scrambled to update their existing apps and develop new apps that would conform to iTunes rule 11.13:

“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 subscriptions.”

This needless re-development cost publishers and companies like NewspaperDirect valuable time and money that should have been invested in new products, services and bundles for subscribers.

According to the new rules, publishers can now offer digital subscriptions and bundled services outside of the App Store without having to worry about offering the same deal through Apple.  Now that’s good news!

Unfortunately Apple will not allow apps to link to outside offers (websites, landing pages, e-stores) from within the app. And it will also not budge on publishers’ access to subscriber data for those purchases done within the App Store.

So it’s still far from a perfect world, but at least it removes the handtaxcuffs from publishers, returning to them some freedom to market and sell their applications in ways that meet the ever changing needs of their readers (except inside their own app).

Why Apple chose to make this change now is anyone’s guess (they’re not talking), but certainly it would seem that a combination of publisher pressure, competitive devices (Android, Playbook, Web OS, Win7) and new technologies (HTML 5) were factors in that decision. And although we applaud Apple for doing the right thing, it is a shame that the company did not consult with publishers prior to imposing such an unwarranted tax in the first place.

If publishers have any questions regarding these latest developments, please contact us at