macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 22, 2010
I am a small business owner and I'd like for someone to tell me if Apple would approve the following app and if so, would they take their 30% cut from my profits. Here's a quick breakdown of the app:

~ My business works with local restaurants to provide a way for individuals to order food online rather than having to wait in line at the store. For example, currently a person can go to our website, fill out a form and place an order for a bowl of soup or a salad from one of the local vendors.

~ NO credit card details are transferred online, only contact details (name, address...etc) and the in-app purchase system would NOT be used. In fact payment of any sort is not used at the time of purchase, rather the food is payed for in person when it picked up in person. In fact, on the back-end, all that the app would do is send an e-mail to to the restaurant with the person's order.

~ The app would be free on the app store.

Would an app like this be allowed on the app store? (I'm not sure why it wouldn't, but I'd like for someone to tell me what they think) If so, would Apple take a 30% cut from sales (keeping in mind no credit card details are transferred)? Would it matter if it's a web app (merely a UIWebView) or if I actually write an objective-c app? Thanks


macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
Don't they allow this through the Starbucks app? Or am I wrong?


May 1, 2010
Several have posted about apps that might be better as websites. This one actually sounds like it might be better as a website. One thing about a website is that you can update it quickly without having to go thru an approval process.

One question you might ask: "what's the difference between the app and a website?" Are you doing something different in the app that wouldn't be done in a website.

The other issue is that Apple seems to be cracking down on what apps are and what they should do. From what you describe, millions of businesses could do the same.

One test you could do, is have a developer do a mockup and submit it. You could have orders submitted to a server/site and see what Apple says. The cost shouldn't be too high, but be advised that Apple's approval process is NOT consistent (they may approve on one day and reject on another) So you might get approved, invest more money, then get rejected.


macrumors 68030
Aug 14, 2007
There is no problem with this. Many retail apps do this sort of thing.

There seems to be a misconception out there that Apple requires you to use in app purchase for anything purchased through an iPhone. Not true at all: this restriction applies only to electronic goods that are consumed on the device itself.

For real-world goods and services, you are not required (and in fact, not permitted) to use in app purchase.
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macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2006
Your idea would seem to have parallels with Square as well.
They do do Credit card transactions in their app. Googling around it doesnt seem like they pay apple at all (other than selling bucket loads of hardware).


macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
I think you're right, but does Apple take 30% from the Starbucks app?

I doubt it, as margins (even for Starbucks) are too low to allow 30% to be skimmed off. A Canadian pizza chain also allows in-app ordering (and payment) and again, margins wouldn't allow them to lose 30% on an order. The 30% is for digital subscriptions, isn't it, not actual goods. That's a very different thing. When I buy an online copy of the New York Times, there's no cost of production or supplies to the NYT over and above what they've already paid to produce the digital edition. A pizza has flour, cheese, etc.


macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
Silicon Valley
If an app looks too much like just a web app, Apple might reject it.

The Starbucks app is free and does not use IAP, so Apple's 30% cut is zero.


Moderator emeritus
Sep 2, 2004
The Centennial State
I really wish Apple would publish their App Store Review Guidelines outside of the iOS Dev Program portal, so that you wouldn't need to be a paid developer to access them. I think it would be nice for wanna-be developers to be able to read through this (and the iOS Developer Program License Agreement) before having to fork over any money.

Suffice it to say, your app won't be rejected for the (lack of) purchase side of things, but may be rejected since it could be perceived as simply a web site bundled as an app.
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