In the press release announcing these subscriptions, there are two key sections that merit second looks.
Apple does require that if a publisher chooses to sell a digital subscription separately outside of the app, that same subscription offer must be made available, at the same price or less, to customers who wish to subscribe from within the app. In addition, publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.
And then there’s:
Apple today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc.
These two sections convey three really dangerous ideas:
• If a company sells a subscription to their service or content outside of the App Store, they must offer it through Apple’s new subscription service for the same price, or cheaper.
• The subscription rules apply to more than just newspapers and magazines—they apply to music and video services too, like Rdio and Rhapsody and Netflix and Hulu Plus
• Apps that sell content through a website pop-up or link to their web store – like Amazon’s Kindle or B&N’s Nook – can’t do that anymore. Apple has confirmed separately that the new rule affects Amazon and “other booksellers” with apps for the iPhone or iPad – exactly what was indicated when Apple blocked Sony’s Reader app a few weeks ago.
Apple takes a 30 per cent cut of every transaction. In other words, Apple is eating the people that provide the things that make the iPad special.
(lots more detail in full article, see link below)
In technical terms, this is a dick move. Fortunately, Rhapsody is fighting back. To close his letter, Irwin states that “we will be collaborating with our market peers in determining an appropriate legal and business response to this latest development”. Here’s another, slightly related technical term: ballsy. It takes real guts to stand up to Apple on this, and we applaud the sentiment. And it will be a fight.
The fact is, that Apple’s new subscriptions – while justifiably wrapped in the smooth, glossy coat of user-friendliness – are a major power grab that inserts the company between basically every content provider and every iPad and iPhone user. You know what? That’s fine. That’s how ecosystems like this work. Think of all the products and services that exist and feed off of into Twitter and Facebook. Apple should take a cut. Just not an amount so significant it might kill the people who have helped make the iPad experience so great.