Apple Rejects 'Readability' iOS App, 'Software as a Service' Offerings Jeopardized

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As noted by TechCrunch, popular software service Readability published an open letter to Apple today addressing its concerns over Apple's rejection of the service's new iOS application developed in collaboration with Instapaper creator Marco Arment. Readability offers a subscription service priced at $5 per month which offers the users to view clutter- and ad-free versions of online content for easy reading, and Apple's rejection of the Readability iOS application was based on the application's lack of support for in-app purchasing, which Apple is now requiring all subscription-based apps to offer so that Apple can take a 30% cut of revenue.
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.
Readability's argument lies in the fact that the service does not in fact offer content subscriptions, but instead utilizes subscriptions to support writers and publishers whose work is already freely-available on the Internet. Apple's policies are of course broad enough to include such functionalities within its in-app subscription requirements, but Readability argues that the move threatens small independent developers trying to make a go of something akin to "software as a service" (SaaS) as differentiated from the true content providers that have received most of the publicity with regards to Apple's subscription policies.

Apple of course has cast its subscription policy net as widely as possible, and many developers will find reasons why their offerings shouldn't be subject to the requirements. But Readbility's situation is somewhat unique if only for the fact that Apple worked closely with Readability to include the service's functionality as a feature of Safari 5, released last June. As a result of the collaboration, Readability's functionality appears as a built-in "Reader" functionality in Safari that strips away extraneous content of web pages to focus on the page's primary article content.

Article Link: Apple Rejects 'Readability' iOS App, 'Software as a Service' Offerings Jeopardized
 

Rothgarr

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2009
33
1
I get the feeling Apple will have to relax this policy somewhat or this will somehow backfire once all publishers group together to give Apple a collective "take a hike".
 

dethmaShine

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2010
1,697
0
Into the lungs of Hell
WTF?

I love Apple for what they have been and what they are. But I'm missing something I guess. Why the hell do you need the 30% cut?

If you really need that, just let people install apps on their own and then if they utilize your service, charge them that ridiculous 30% cut.

This is getting beyond limits. Don't be a bitch.
 

Atheistpaladin

macrumors newbie
Apr 23, 2009
19
0
If they could get away with that then every single app in the app store would be free but come with hidden subscription fee :rolleyes:
 

deadkennedy

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2010
320
0
If they could get away with that then every single app in the app store would be free but come with hidden subscription fee :rolleyes:
Which is exactly what was happening on the market before iPhone - remember the "free ringtone" deals? It's just that Apple is now trying to be even more greedy than the telcos.
 

Full of Win

macrumors 68030
Nov 22, 2007
2,615
1
Ask Apple
Apple CONsumer Electronics strikes again.

I so hope all the content provides jump ship, and do so publicly. We will see how long Apple can do without them, especially NetFlix on Apple TV.
 

TheReadyPrompt

macrumors member
Feb 16, 2011
61
0
Apple is a company built on greed, as far back as the overpriced hack known as the Apple II. And greed will be Apple's undoing.
 

Fukui

macrumors 68000
Jul 19, 2002
1,617
7
Stupid stupid stupid... is apple just trying to loose all those great apps?
Those 5% of good apps make all the difference... if they all leave then app store will just be nothing more than a pile of 300,000 pieces of junk.
 

jdiamond

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2008
593
467
Why don't people spell out this is 51% ?

I get the feeling Apple will have to relax this policy somewhat or this will somehow backfire once all publishers group together to give Apple a collective "take a hike".
So 30% + 30% of 70% = 51% taxation rate. What really incredible about this is (1) Apple hardly needs the money, and (2) all these moves do is bolster their competition. You can bet every Android developer in the halls of Google were partying like no tomorrow when they heard news like this. Obviously, Apple should do things to encourage their use as a primary platform - if very fundamental apps simply aren't available, that could hurt Apple more than the 350,000 apps they allow.

I really hope they don't make the Microsoft mistake.
 

Moyank24

macrumors 601
Aug 31, 2009
4,334
2,450
in a New York State of mind
I get the feeling Apple will have to relax this policy somewhat or this will somehow backfire once all publishers group together to give Apple a collective "take a hike".
+1

I just can't see this ending well.

I certainly don't want this to effect the availability of certain Apps that we have access to now. That would be a lose-lose for all involved.
 

saxamoophone

macrumors regular
Mar 30, 2008
201
0
Dear Apple,

Here's a solution: "unlock" iOS devices.

We already PAID you for your service. I should be able to easily "sideload" Apps from whoever I want =).

If I want to use your AppStore, I understand the 30% rule.

Jailbreaking shouldn't be required.
 

bdkennedy1

Suspended
Oct 24, 2002
1,275
528
Regardless of Apple's policy, I don't understand how anyone would want to pay a monthly fee for an app that removes ads.

I am sick of wading thought page after page of crappy scam apps and apps from other countries.
 

dethmaShine

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2010
1,697
0
Into the lungs of Hell
I think the problem is that the App store is the only way to get the software.

And now Apple is going to block the Apps which don't pay a fee. It's like a Mafia gang asking for a weekly tip; 30% in this case.

I know the App store is great. Something that most enjoy and many benefit from. But don't get that ridiculous and let people call your system closed.

I think thats the reason most of the people refer to iOS as closed. You won't allow apps on the store; you won't allow apps any other way. Not good Apple. Not good.
 

karsten

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2010
887
122
Dear Apple,

Here's a solution: "unlock" iOS devices.

We already PAID you for your service. I should be able to easily "sideload" Apps from whoever I want =).

If I want to use your AppStore, I understand the 30% rule.

Jailbreaking shouldn't be required.
srsly. its our own freaking property. why should apple say what should run on it?
 

deannnnn

macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2007
2,032
285
New York City & South Florida
This new policy is absolutely absurd. Proof of that is most evident here on MacRumors where even the most dedicated fanboys (myself included) don't support it. What is Apple thinking? It's ruining their already poor reputation among fellow companies and developers, something that they inexplicably seem not to care about.
 

saxamoophone

macrumors regular
Mar 30, 2008
201
0
This is going to be a long and ugly battle I fear.
This will only be bad for Apple IMO.

With their current system they will lose out on PR-wars.
With their current system they will lose App Developers (quality ones like Netflix)
With their current system they will give the competition (Android, Windows, BB, HP) more fuel

The Verizon launch should have been a newsflash for apple: you don't have control of the smart phone market. Making people WANT to avoid your iOS ecosystem right now is BADDDDD.

Gah, I love Apple devices, but trying to push developers and consumers away like this is just stupid. UNLOCK YOUR DEVICE!
 

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
3,529
804
Which is exactly what was happening on the market before iPhone - remember the "free ringtone" deals? It's just that Apple is now trying to be even more greedy than the telcos.
Right now the App Store pays for its own existence through that 30% cut. What Apple is doing here is trying to prevent a loophole as Atheistpaladin points out. Companies monetizing Apple's distribution platform without sharing some of the cost of distribution.

That isn't to say this isn't a bad move. But it points out the problems of a one-size-fits-all distribution method for applications and services.
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,608
2,863
Readability's argument lies in the fact that the service does not in fact offer content subscriptions, but instead utilizes subscriptions to support writers and publishers whose work is already freely-available on the Internet.
As a paid Instapaper user, I want to sympathize with Readability. Readability rewards publishers with 70% of the $5/month subscription. Without Apple's 30% in-app take, Readability stands to make $1.50/month. With Apple's 30% in-app cut, and I assume most publishers want to maintain their 70% margin, Readability stands to make just $0.50/month.

Although I feel $5/month is rather high for this sort of service, I can see why Readability is rather upset at the prospect of making just $6/year.

At the same time, Apple is in a position where creating an exception can create a loophole some may exploit.
 

notabadname

macrumors 65816
Jan 4, 2010
1,352
406
Detroit Suburbs
If you want to sell your product or service in the physical "Mall" that is the iPad, you have to pay to have access to the tens of millions of customers that shop and buy services there.
 

dethmaShine

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2010
1,697
0
Into the lungs of Hell
Right now the App Store pays for its own existence through that 30% cut. What Apple is doing here is trying to prevent a loophole as Atheistpaladin points out. Companies monetizing Apple's distribution platform without sharing some of the cost of distribution.

That isn't to say this isn't a bad move. But it points out the problems of a one-size-fits-all distribution method for applications and services.
I somewhat see it being good as a:
One distribution channel.

But why? I doubt but this seems as if Apple wants to hold ALL the data. Why?

This loophole thing leads me to a question:
Does this imply that people cannot sell their content without Apple interfering in their revenues? Why should Apple be paid 30%? Is it just because it's on the App store?

If that's the case, then Sideloading should be allowed without a jailbreak.
 
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