Steve Jobs Fielding Emails, but NYC Developers Still Have Questions

Apple rejected the New York-based Readability’s app, which strips ads from content, on the grounds that it refreshes content without adhering to the new Apple rules seemingly designed for subscription-based content providers such as magazines and Hulu.

Not fair, Readability cried, loudly, in an open letter yesterday that said the new policy “smacks of greed.” Apple wants a 30 percent cut of all purchases made after the initial purchase of the app, whether it’s “content, functionality or services.”

In the rejection, Apple seemed to group any app that tries to deliver extra, subscription-based functionality for users—including Readability, its cousin Instapaper, and apps like Dropbox, Evernote, LinkedIn and others—with content-based subscription apps. The former type is referred to as “software as a service” or the more obtuse “SaaS.”

But wait! One frustrated developer emailed Mr. Jobs directly and reportedly received a reply: “We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.”

An answer from Steve! But what does it mean?

From Instapaper’s Marco Arment:

The response fits his style, so I’d say it’s likely that it’s real. It doesn’t really answer the question, though.

He only said that Apple didn’t create the subscriptions for SaaS apps, not whether SaaS apps can use them (are we prohibited from using them?), or whether we’re required to use them…

Why don’t the published guidelines reflect this clarification, and what’s stopping whoever gets your submission on the App Review team from following the literal definition?

The rule as stated, encompassing “content, functionality, or services”, sounds like it includes SaaS apps by any remotely straightforward interpretation.

Sounds like trouble in the house of Apple. In other news, is there any terminology other than “Saas”? It really kills a headline.

ajeffries [at] | @adrjeffries


Steve Jobs Fielding Emails, but NYC Developers Still Have Questions