Apple App Store Subscriptions: The FAQ

Apple’s long-awaited App Store subscription policy is out. Here’s a quick FAQ to get to the key points:

»  What kind of content is covered? : Magazines, newspapers, video, music, “etc.” Games aren’t mentioned.

»  What are the subscription options? Weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or annual.

»  What’s Apple’s cut? The same 30 percent that it gets for other In-App Purchases. In the announcement, Steve Jobs explains it like this: “Our philosophy is simple-when Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) 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.”

»  Can publishers sell subscriptions outside the app? Yes, but under restrictions:
— Apple won’t authenticate.
— Subscriptions must be available in-app with the same — or better offer so “customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app.”
— Publishers are prohibited from linking to out-of-app sites to purchase content or subscriptions. It’s not clear whether they can mention the offers or provide an address without links.

»  Who handles the billing? Apple manages all in-app sales through its one-click iTunes system.

»  Who owns the customer relationship?: Apple.

»  How do publishers get customer information?: Apple says to protect privacy, customers will be given the option of providing their name, e-mail address and zip code when they subscribe. If they opt in, the information is gverned by the publisher’s policy — not Apple’s. Publishers are allowed to ask for more information inside the app “provided those customers are given a clear choice” and that it is clear the publisher has control, not Apple.

»  Can subscribers cancel?: They can manage their subscriptions from their personal account page but it looks like only automatic renewals can be canceled.

Publishers and developers: Have you asked Apple another question about the new policy and received an answer? Please share in our comments.