Apple Officially Wants Its 30% Vig — Sometimes

UPDATED: See end.

Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store

“Our philosophy is simple — when Apple 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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “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.”


Publishers who use Apple’s subscription service in their app can also leverage other methods for acquiring digital subscribers outside of the app. For example, publishers can sell digital subscriptions on their web sites, or can choose to provide free access to existing subscribers. Since Apple is not involved in these transactions, there is no revenue sharing or exchange of customer information with Apple.


Publishers must provide their own authentication process inside the app for subscribers that have signed up outside of the app.

I don’t know exactly what that sentence means. I await the opinions of people who are technically inclined to interpret that bit.

This is still not going to go down easily. I can’t see Amazon or anyone else dealing with eBooks agreeing to give up 30% like that. Magazines might agree to it, but that’s a gamble they’ve always taken with heavily-discounted print subscriptions. eBooks are on thinner margins.

The best I can say about this right now is that Apple is not preventing out-of-app sales by also requiring in-app sales.

More as this develops.

UPDATE: I missed this little sentence, which is a bombshell:

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.

So, after all, Apple is preventing out-of-app sales, when the app itself is used.

Now I wait to see how Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and others respond to this.

Previously here:

The Day Apple Became Nathan Myhrvold


Filed under Apple: The Company, eBooks: General, Friction, Marketing

2 responses to “Apple Officially Wants Its 30% Vig — Sometimes

  1. If I can’t use the Kindle app on an iPad, I ain’t getting one. Stupid bastards. This makes me so mad. I may just buy a Kindle.

    • mikecane

      I’m sure you’ll still be able to use the Kindle app — but only as a reader. You won’t be able to buy anything using it. You’ll have to go to Safari, browse the Amazon site, buy there — and then *hope* Jobs hasn’t broken the OS link that will allow the purchased Kindle book to download and open in the Kindle app! Breaking the link will probably be the next move.

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