iOS iOS apps that require paid software on server?

ohbrilliance

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 15, 2007
937
208
Melbourne, Australia
I'm hoping somebody can help advise here. We sell products to photographers that enable them to design and manage websites and photo albums on their own server. Essentially, our paid software is installed on their servers.

I am about to embark on an iOS app that enables our customers to manage the albums on their self-hosted sites from an iOS device. We would be selling this app, so not a free download.

My question is, does this model work within the T&Cs of the App Store? The model being a paid app requiring paid software on their own servers to function.
Note that we do not offer a service or have any subscription model.

Alternatively, if we were to offer a free browsing-only app with an in-app purchase to provide full functionality would this be allowed? That is a free app that would be partially functional if the customer has our paid software on their server, fully functional if they have both our paid software on their server *and made an in-app purchase*, and effectively not functional at all if they do not have our software on their server, irrespective of whether they have made an in-app purchase or not.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,565
3,978
I don't think Apple will have a problem with your model, but I imagine your customers will be pissed at you for double charging. I think most companies who make products that can be managed from iOS sell the product (as you already do) and then give away the iOS app for free.
 

ohbrilliance

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 15, 2007
937
208
Melbourne, Australia
Thanks for responding. They shouldn't be pissed for a couple of reasons: 1) Our business model has always been about charging on a module-by-module basis. 2) The core flow is from Lightroom to customers' websites, so the app will very much offer supplementary functionality.
 

moonman239

macrumors 68000
Mar 27, 2009
1,521
22
I don't think Apple will have a problem with your model, but I imagine your customers will be pissed at you for double charging. I think most companies who make products that can be managed from iOS sell the product (as you already do) and then give away the iOS app for free.
Considering the app is intended to be a complement to existing software, I don't think that's double-charging.

Being double-charged to use an app is more like going to the cinema and having to pay normal admission prices at the box office, then having to pay more money at the door to the theater to be allowed inside the theater.If you were in that scenario, since you already would have paid for admission, you'd be reasonably frustrated since you already bought a ticket to see a movie, but can't see it unless you pay the entrance fee.

What the OP wants to do is more like selling snacks and drinks at a cinema. The moviegoer in this scenario has two options. He or she can go to a movie, with or without buying snacks and drinks, and if he or she chooses not to buy snacks or drinks, he or she will not have to pay any more to the theater than he or she already paid.
 

firewood

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
7,645
872
Silicon Valley
Make sure the app does not to link, directly or indirectly, to any website or provide any way for users to buy the paid software; else you may run afoul of Apple's IAP guidelines.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,565
3,978
Considering the app is intended to be a complement to existing software, I don't think that's double-charging.

Being double-charged to use an app is more like going to the cinema and having to pay normal admission prices at the box office, then having to pay more money at the door to the theater to be allowed inside the theater.If you were in that scenario, since you already would have paid for admission, you'd be reasonably frustrated since you already bought a ticket to see a movie, but can't see it unless you pay the entrance fee.
Suppose the customer buys the iOS app first, though. In that case, they have paid money but get nothing for it unless they buy the server side portion as well.
 

hiddenmarkov

macrumors 6502a
Mar 12, 2014
689
363
Japan
Suppose the customer buys the iOS app first, though. In that case, they have paid money but get nothing for it unless they buy the server side portion as well.
This would be where they'd have to tread lightly.



With current users you'd have less issue. They know and have your service already. It be potential users like me not knowing of your service who might wander into your app in the store who would have issues.


If going down this route I'd highly advise simple and explicit warnings are made this is a 1-2 combo on the apps sale page when released. App does not work unless you have the other service paid for I'd recommend be made as clear as possible.

Granted you will get the people who won't read that part, you would at least have the CYOA covered. If only to have people like me who would write off the 1 star reviews this may get because of this. I being a fair man would go this reviewer failed to read and move on to reviews of more substance.
 

DannyBres

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2007
1,413
6
UK
What is the app called? It sounds interesting.

This is very similar to the way the Fever rss reader works. You buy the backend from Shaun Inman. Install it on your own hosting then purchase various iOS clients that can be used with it like Reeder and Sunstroke etc.
 

ohbrilliance

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 15, 2007
937
208
Melbourne, Australia
The app does not exist yet. I'll share more about it when it's no longer vapourware.

We have a solid customer base, with forums, a blog and newsletter that are well-followed. So this is where we will attract attention to the app. Good call on customers accidentally buying the app without previously having our other plugins. A clear note in the app description should cover this, but if anybody still wants to ignore that then so be it. You can't help everybody.

I don't see this as a big earner at all, but would like to get some reward for the two or so months I see myself spending on development.