Apple has finally relented and changed their policies on in-app subscriptions. Back in February, Apple announced in-app subscriptions, but along with the new API, the added some restrictions that could have forced some developers to leave the iOS App Store (such as Amazon’s Kindle). The two most pernicious ones were the price must be the same between in-app and out of app subscriptions (ie developers couldn’t charge a higher price to cover Apple’s cut), and that to offer the content developers must use the in-app purchase system (instead of not using it at all and charging subscribers on their website.
Apple has modified those restrictions. They no longer require the prices be the same, and they no longer require using the in-app subscription system. So developers can charge a higher price for the subscriptions. They also have the option of signing up subscribers on their website, and using that payment to send content to their iOS app. However, Apple will not let them have a BUY button in their app that takes them to the their website. I think that’s a fair compromise.
Even though I don’t have an app that is covered by the policies, I care about the iOS ecosystem. I found the subscription policies detrimental to that ecosystem, and I am glad Apple realized that as well. Another moral of this story is that complaining loudly, in the press, on blogs & websites, and to Apple can make them change their mind. In future, I hope we’ll here less of “They can do what they want to, so stop complaining because they’ll never change their mind.” That’s a good lesson to learn.