MacRumors reports that changes to the most recent App Review Guidelines address what I considered to be the biggest problem with in-app subscription and purchase pricing: the so-called “most favored nation” clause that disallowed competitive pricing in and out of the App Store.
As the article shows, the requirement that external content be priced the same as or more than the App Store price (Section 11.13) is now gone. The new terms now simply say “as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content.” This is exactly what I called for back in February:
I think a great deal of this drama could go away if Apple dropped section 11.13 while keeping section 11.14: Your prices on your store are your business; just don’t be a jerk and advertise the difference all over ours.
It’s worth noting that other retailers such as Amazon include the same unfavorable terms, so I was not confident that Apple would change its tune. This is a welcome and surprising move.
MacRumors suggests that this is a response to the Financial Times’ recent move to a web app in order to avoid Apple’s commerce rules. I don’t think that’s it. This change was probably decided on a while ago, and simply queued up for the next convenient terms update. (Extra Style Bonus to the FT, though, for writing a third-person piece about its own bold move.)
Crawling updated Apple license agreements is quickly becoming an Olympic sport. I can’t think of any other company — or country, for that matter — that is so enthusiastically scrutinized.