Apple Rejects Readability’s iOS App Due To Lack Of In-App Subscription Option

BY Jason

Published 21 Feb 2011

IS Drive iPhone app

Apple has just rejected Readability’s iOS application from the App Store as it did not offer in-app subscription option.

Readability is a service, which offers users a clutter and ad-free version of online content for easy reading for $5 per month. Readability in turn gives publishers in the user’s reading list 70% of the membership fee.

Apple had recently announced in-app subscription for content based apps, which allows publishers of content-based apps to sell subscriptions for content such as magazines, newspapers, music and video to users using the App Store billing system.

At that time Apple had also clarified that:

“All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

Readability team is quite obviously angry with Apple’s decision to reject the app and has written an open letter to Apple on their blog. Here are some excerpts from it:

We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, and surprised by the broad language. By including “functionality, or services,” it’s clear that you intend to pursue any subscription-based apps, not merely those of services serving up content. Readability’s model is unique in that 70% of our service fees go directly to writers and publishers. If we implemented In App purchasing, your 30% cut drastically undermines a key premise of how Readability works.[..]

[..] To be clear, we believe you have every right to push forward such a policy. In our view, it’s your hardware and your channel and you can put forth any policy you like. But to impose this course on any web service or web application that delivers any value outside of iOS will only discourage smaller ventures like ours to invest in iOS apps for our services. As far as Readability is concerned, our response is fairly straight-forward: go the other way… towards the web.

Readability team has also suggested that they will be happy to offer in-app subscriptions if Apple gives 70% of its 30% cut to publishers.

Interestingly, Apple had used the open source aspects of Readability’s work to create Safari’s “Reader” functionality.

Apple’s plan to force publishers to offer in-app subscription, if they make a subscription offer outside the app is turning out to be a controversial one as it is economically unviable for services like SaaS, music streaming service etc.

Though it’s a fair thing to expect from Apple’s point of view as the in-app purchase option is lot more user friendly, Apple needs to rethink its stance as taking a 30% cut seems to be unreasonable for services like Readability.

What do you think? Please share your views in the comments section below.

[via Readability]