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Purported Steve Jobs email suggests Netflix, others safe from Apple’s subscription rules

Could all the recent hoopla stirred up by Apple’s decision to enforce its existing App Store subscription policies be much ado about nothing? Earlier this month, Apple announced that its new App Store subscription service became available to all publishers. In a related note prior to that announcement, Apple noted that it would begin cracking down on content providers who had been skirting a rule stipulating all apps providing links to Web-based content purchases must also make the same content available using Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism — therefor forcing them to cough up Apple’s 30% cut. As a result, developers were enraged. Apple’s typically unclear wording left each developer guessing as to whether or not it might be affected by the policy. Some publicly jumped to conclusions while others went further still and announced that they would abandon iOS all together. One developer recently decided to email Apple CEO Steve Jobs and inquire about the matter, however, and claims to have received a response. Both emails are found after the break.

Hello Steve,

As a full time iOS developer, I am concerned (and confused) withe the new App Store guideline regarding “Apps offering subscriptions” (section 11.12).

Most of the iOS apps I have developed, as a contractor for other businesses, have been free apps that had login screens to allow the user access to some amount of private data. and/or service. These businesses have all been well established companies that sell some kind of service to their customers (Software As a Service companies) and the iOS app was merely another “portal” for their users to access their data/services (in many times, in a limited i.e. “mobile” fashion)…. for example; SalesForce. I am concerned that most of these businesses will choose to not develop an iOS app for their customers if the IAP & subscription policy was in place.

Would these type’s of free apps be still be allowed in the App Store or will they now be expected to use IAP?

Steve Jobs’ alleged response:

We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.

Sent from my iPhone

Jobs’ purported response is still a bit vague but it does indicate that Apple intends to enforce this rule for “publishing apps” and not Saftware as a Service (SaaS) apps such as Dropbox or Netflix, which allow users to purchase a subscription service and not published content.


Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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