In Wake Of Sony’s Complaint, Apple Explains In-App Requirements

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has responded to the reports earlier today of how it rejected the Sony (NYSE: SNE) Reader app from the App Store, because it sells content within the app, and lets users access content that they purchased outside Apple’s own App Store.

“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller told AllThingsD. “We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”

As we explained in the post earlier today, in-app purchase (IAP) is one of Apple’s latest tweaks to the App Store. IAP, like the purchase of apps themselves, gets processed through the users’ iTunes account — and therefore presumably will follow the same Apple-30/publishers-70 split that Apple offers to developers already. What Apple seems to be saying in today’s statement is that app publishers that offer readers the ability to pay with one option, should also make Apple’s IAP option available, too.

But this also raises more questions. For example, if Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), or another “app store” operator (selling books, games, music or anything else, for that matter) is already sharing revenue on apps within it, will that secondary revenue share be a split of that 70 percent that the publishers are getting from Apple?

And does this mean that if Sony adds the iTunes IAP into the Reader app (which might be messy or confusing on something the size of an iPhone screen), that everything will be fine?

And as for existing apps, where does this leave them? It looks like they may have until the end of June to get with the IAP program. Frederic Filloux highlights the answer in a recent Monday Note post, quoting a note from Apple to app publishers a few months ago, when Apple launched IAP:

“For existing apps already on the App Store, we are providing a grace period to bring your app into compliance with this guideline. To ensure your app remains on the App Store, please submit an update that uses the In App Purchase API for purchasing content, by June 30, 2011.”

Staci adds: I asked an industry exec today whether Apple cleared up the issue. The reply: “We just don’t know. They are very confusing.”