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Software The Almighty Buck The Courts The Media Apple

Apple Eases Rules For Subscription Apps 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the reading-the-writing-on-the-wall dept.
pjfontillas writes "Apple has quietly reversed their decision that required publishers who sell content and subscriptions in their iPhone and iPad apps to go through iTunes, with Apple taking a 30% cut. It's not so quiet in the workplace, however, as this news has a pretty big influence on developer workloads. Here at The New York Times our developers breathed a sigh of relief once we realized we don't have try and work around that requirement like The Financial Times did. Apple seems to have been doing much better with their community (consumers and developers alike) recently." Reader imamac notes that Apple has also filed a motion to intervene in the Lodsys patent suit against several iOS app developers that we've been following.
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Apple Eases Rules For Subscription Apps

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  • They're finally realizing that their restrictive practices are a little too restrictive?

    Crazy talk, I know...

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      Nah, just too fast. They'll back off, wait a few months, then ease in with the same restrictions, maybe with a couple of intermediate steps in between so that people can rationalize it to themselves better. It's the exact same way you avoid outrage while increasing gas prices, removing citizens rights, etc...

    • No, what it is is what it has always been. They respond to what they perceive their target market wants. Internet bitching from nerds who hate them isn't really a factor in their strategy.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      Right, they are "too restrictive". So restrictive, in fact, that iOS is the most popular "app-style" mobile OS. I mean, iOS is just *hurting* for users and developers!

      This isn't a sign that Apple is going to change their overall policy. Their overall policy is working out fantastic for them. This just shows that Apple will do what Apple has always done when something doesn't work out, they'll change it.

      The original purpose of the clause was to make In App purchasing something end users could trust in and us

  • by superwiz (655733) on Friday June 10, 2011 @01:09PM (#36402792) Journal
    How exactly does a sentence which starts with "here at The New York Times" ends up having two grammatical mistakes in it?
    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday June 10, 2011 @01:14PM (#36402874)

      I can't decide if a grammar Nazi making a spelling mistake on the word "grammar" (as "gramer") is ironic or requires the arrival of spelling Nazis.

      • by superwiz (655733)
        I don't hold myself to as high a standard on grammar as the standard to which I hold The New York Times.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        I hope it requires the arrival of more misspelling grammar Nazis, so they all can get stuck in an infinite recursion.

      • And a grammar mistake to boot: "How exactly does a sentence [...] ends up having..."

      • Because, as you said, grammar Nazis worry about the syntactic structures of sentences but do not necessarily worry about semantics. Spelling Nazis worry about semantics but not syntax. They are overlapping but not completely overlapping categories.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      How exactly does a sentence which starts with "here at The New York Times" ends up having two grammatical mistakes in it?

      Sadly, I read the news often (both online and in dead tree format) ... I see an astonishing amount of evidence that even people who work for major news media are slipping in their ability to write properly.

      I see typos, misuse of their/there, and plenty of other things ... I think grammar and spelling seem to be in decline everywhere. Time was, these guys were the ones who really knew the

      • Not to mention the shocking amount of using the wrong spelling of a word that slips through anymore, like they're/their/there, then/than, accept/except.

        My English Comp professor used to outright reject papers with more than 2 or 3 errors like this...people complained, but really, how hard is it to proofread something before you submit it? Apparently damn hard...

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          My English Comp professor used to outright reject papers with more than 2 or 3 errors like this...people complained, but really, how hard is it to proofread something before you submit it? Apparently damn hard...

          Well, if the little red squiggle shows up, you typed it wrong, what else it there to know? :-P

          Wee went their too sea if they're was anything two bee scene ... that would pass a spell checker. It's almost gibberish unless you say it outloud and ignore the words as written.

          If you simply don't know th

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        My favourite one is how journalists, particularly TV reporters, love to talk about people being evacuated. I know it can be hard to control one's bowels when faced with extreme danger but I'm pretty sure that's not what they meant.

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          My favourite one is how journalists, particularly TV reporters, love to talk about people being evacuated. I know it can be hard to control one's bowels when faced with extreme danger but I'm pretty sure that's not what they meant.

          I like The Wire, too, but this little joke was just something they trumped up for TV. Merriam-Webster gives one definition of evacuate [merriam-webster.com] as: "to withdraw from a place in an organized way especially for protection." David Simon says [nymag.com] he put it into the show as an homage to one of his copy editors who used to give him a hard time about it; nonetheless, the usage is perfectly fine.

    • You are a disappointment to grammar nazis everywhere. Please turn in your membership card.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Sorry, you need to log in to the NYTimes site to access the grammatically correct version

  • Google and Microsoft, where are you?
    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      I was aware that Lodsys was also suing Android developers [bgr.com], but what does Microsoft have to do about this right now?

      This actually might be an interesting differentiation strategy -- if Apple can show that it will go to bat for its developers, then Google is obliged to do at least as much, or else Android begins to look unsafe. It's sortof sick (or interesting) to think that a legal team and patent indemnification has now become a part of a computing platform as important as the APIs, the brand and the marke

      • I'd go with "interesting" over sick. If you made alternators instead of software, indemnification would be a necessary part of your business plan to begin with. Software patent litigation is actually only a small part of the field of patent litigation, and despite what you see on slashdot, it's comparatively rare. You average run-of-the-mill patent dispute is much more likely to be about components in a pea-combiner or an x-ray source than it is going to be about the use of a specific codec.

        With that sai

      • Maybe Google doesn't have a license to the patent in question ? Apple's whole case rests on the fact that they had a cross-licensing deal with the company Lodsys bought the patents from and that prevents developers from being sued for using the technology Apple has built that implements said patent.

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          Maybe Google doesn't have a license to the patent in question ?

          It does, [lodsys.com] as does Microsoft.

  • Android (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robertl234 (787648) on Friday June 10, 2011 @01:18PM (#36402934)
    Having a strong competitor will do the most amazing things :) I'm so glad that Google didn't let Apple achieve the >75% marketshare that they did with the iPods. Can you imagine the iPhone being the only credible smartphone in the market?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      iPhone already is the only credible smartphone on the market.

      • iPhone already is the only credible smartphone on the market.

        Does that make their competitors incredible?

    • by node 3 (115640)

      Yeah, because they never improved their iPods!

      The reason Google got into the smartphone OS business is because they want a customer base to sell to advertisers. And in fact, the reverse is true, in terms of the impact of competition. The iPhone made Android what it is today. Android went from a BlackBerry clone to an iPhone clone after the iPhone came out.

      Apple is Apple's best competitor. When, since 1997, has Apple ever just sat around and rested on its laurels?

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Friday June 10, 2011 @01:18PM (#36402942)
    I'm a cynic. I think they decided it would be more profitable in the long run. Android is growing like a weed on phones, and at least has some nifty tablets, even if those sales stink. Windows Phone is getting all the bells and whistles in the fall (even though their sales numbers stink too), and next year Windows 8 will attempt to take on iPad and OS X at the same time with a unified platform.

    Apple has made tons of money already from their mandated royalties, and I think they are just feeling worried and trying to assuage old grudges of their partners in preparation for the next waves of real competition.
    • by smoot123 (1027084)

      Nothing cynical about protecting their bottom line. Virtually everything Apple (or any other company does) has to consider how this affects sales and profits. That's just what companies do: they produce something I like more than I like the money in my pocket. We make a trade, everyone's happy. If they fail, I keep the money, I'm happy, they're out of business.

      The beauty of competition is it forces companies to do things I like even if they're not thrilled about it.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      Apple has made tons of money already from their mandated royalties, and I think they are just feeling worried and trying to assuage old grudges of their partners in preparation for the next waves of real competition.

      Apple makes almost nothing from their 30% cut. And you vastly overestimate the threat Apple faces. The part about Windows 8 taking on the iPad was especially amusing.

      They make their money by selling hardware to their customers. Everything they do is about making their hardware and software more appealing to these very same customers. It's not "cynical" to alter your product to be more appealing.

      • Those are reasonable observations (although I'd love to have a small fraction of the "almost nothing" they've made in profits from their 30% cut). I don't know how well Win8 will perform on tablets. And even if MS is somehow able to offer the full Win8 on lightweight slates with a smooth experience (e.g. not killing batteries), that doesn't mean consumers will flock to the OS+form factor like they have with the iPad. Regardless, it should be a fascinating fight to watch, especially due to MS and Apple ta
  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday June 10, 2011 @01:28PM (#36403076)

    Note that the devil is in the details.

    While Apple will

    • no longer require publishers to also sell through iTunes
    • publishers are now allowed to charge more through iTunes if they so desire

    They're still bound to some rules:

    • If a subscription is offered through the app, it must go through iTunes
    • a subscription through iTunes still nets Apple the 30%
    • customer data is still not made available to the publishers (unless the user so chooses, and the data provided in that case is limited)
    • Publishers may not use an UI element (button) that redirects to their own subscription portal

    In other words.. they can offer the subscription elsewhere, but they're not allowed to make it easy for users to pick up said subscription.

    It's still an improvement (for publishers, for users I'm sure the proposed earlier method was already ideal) as publishers can now at least offset the Apple take through price differentiation - but it still has its idiosyncrasies.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Publishers will just tell people to subscribe to their mobile formatted website, and maybe provide an app that does little more than frame the HTML. They don't make anything like 30% on their subscriptions so unless users are willing to pay 30% extra over a web subscription... Well, actually I think a fair few users would pay that just to get a special iPad formatted app or something, just because it makes them feel like it is specially for their prized possession rather than a generic web site that dirty A

    • So far as I can see, placing a button that would open subscription management website in Mobile Safari would conform to the rules. For practical purposes, it's good enough.

  • In any company, there's always somebody who has the "Sanity Token" and is
    therefore actually *thinking* about the consequences. Apparently a party or parties
    unknown in corporate finally realized that sodomizing your developer community
    is a massively suboptimal long-term strategy.

  • Apple's gotten too big. It's got a major case of left-hand not knowing what right-hand is doing. It's almost a culture.

    • by Phleg (523632) <stephen@touset. o r g> on Friday June 10, 2011 @02:10PM (#36403660)

      Right. Because the one thing we all can agree on about Apple is that it's an unorganized mess without a strong controlling central authority.

    • by jamrock (863246) on Friday June 10, 2011 @02:26PM (#36403838)

      Apple's gotten too big. It's got a major case of left-hand not knowing what right-hand is doing. It's almost a culture.

      Gotten too big? By what arbitrary standard could that be decided? Because you don't like Apple?

      Please give even a single instance of "left-hand not knowing what right-hand is doing" where Apple is concerned. That's about as far from reality as you can get in Apple's case. Not only is their integration working remarkably well for them, but their focus is almost terrifying in it's scope. Everything Apple does informs everything else, from the design of their hardware, software, and retail stores, to the thrust of their advertising and their carefully managed public image. That is their culture, which is diametrically opposed to your assertion. You're really describing Microsoft, with their multiple competing fiefdoms.

      When Apple first announced their guidelines for subscriptions and the publishers protested in outrage, I predicted in a discussion that Apple would change them before they went into effect. I argued at the time that it seemed to me that Apple were merely floating a trial balloon to see how far they could push, and were probably well prepared in advance to exercise some flexibility. This also works for them, because they can then give the public impression that they're prepared to be reasonable, when in fact they had probably planned internally for less stringent terms. As I said, Apple manages their public image with extreme care, and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised that they pushed their original terms knowing full well that they had no intention of implementing them. In fact I would argue that they would have been surprised if they had been widely accepted.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        So because of your fealty to Apple, you refuse to believe that this was a mistake. "Yeah, they meant to do that."

        • by jamrock (863246)
          Fealty to Apple? Hahahah! Now you're just being silly. You're presuming to fit my motivations for replying to you into your own skewed little worldview. And you didn't give any plausible grounds on which Apple could or should be broken up, besides your saying so. Wah wah wah! Grow the fuck up.
  • The only quiet nature of it is that the Press calls it that due to Apple not broadcasting it's policies as front page news. The Developers all know about it and it didn't sneak up on us.

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