Apple’s subscription policy has been the subject of a great deal of controversy since it was introduced a week ago. It has been heavily in the spotlight this week, with app developer Readability having posted an open letter to Apple,
In the letter, Readability creator Rich Ziade wrote:
We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, and surprised by the broad language. By including "functionality, or services," it’s clear that you intend to pursue any subscription-based apps, not merely those of services serving up content. Readability’s model is unique in that 70% of our service fees go directly to writers and publishers. If we implemented In App purchasing, your 30% cut drastically undermines a key premise of how Readability works.
Before we cool down and come to our senses, we might as well share how we’re feeling right now: we believe that your new policy smacks of greed. Subscription apps like ours represent a tiny sliver of app sales that represent a tiny sliver of your revenue. You’ve achieved much of your success in hardware sales by cultivating an incredibly impressive app ecosystem. Every iPad or iPhone TV ad puts the apps developed by companies like ours front and center. It was a healthy and mutually beneficial dynamic: apps like ours get exposure and you get to show the world how these apps make your hardware shine. That’s why we’re a bit baffled here.
To be clear, we believe you have every right to push forward such a policy. In our view, it’s your hardware and your channel and you can put forth any policy you like. But to impose this course on any web service or web application that delivers any value outside of iOS will only discourage smaller ventures like ours to invest in iOS apps for our services. As far as Readability is concerned, our response is fairly straight-forward: go the other way… towards the web.
Now MacRumors has published an email allegedly from Steve jobs, which was in response to an anonymous reader of that publication. The email simply said, "We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps."
TechCrunch’s MG Siegler says in a post at ParisLemon that he’s heard of some SaaS apps that have already been rejected for not using Apple’s in-app subscriptions.
Upon announcement of the subscription service, Jobs simply said, "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. 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."
Apple’s policy is reportedly being monitored by antitrust regulators.