DOJ, FTC Looking at Apple Subscription Rules

| News

Apple’s recent policy changes requiring publishers to include in-app subscription and purchase options for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad have apparently caught the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The two agencies are looking into the new policy, but haven’t launched a formal investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

DOJ, FTC are looking into Apple’s new in-app sales rules

The rules Apple is imposing on developers require them to include an in-app purchase option whenever they offer a system for purchases and rentals outside of the application. Sticking with its standard App Store policy, Apple will take a 30 percent cut from sales and rentals made within apps.

Companies can offer subscriptions, rentals and sales outside of their apps, but Apple is prohibiting them from including in-app links to their online stores.

Santa Clara University’s High Tech Law Institute director Eric Goldman called blocking apps from linking to Web-based stores is “a pretty aggressive position.”

“It seems like that’s purely in the interests of Apple trying to restrict people doing transactions they don’t get a cut from,” he said.

The U.S. agencies are interested in whether or not Apple’s new policy crosses over into antitrust territory. Just because the agencies are looking at the new terms and conditions, however, doesn’t necessarily mean Apple is violating any laws, or that any action will be taken against the company.

The agencies haven’t launched a formal investigation into the matter, either.

Apple hasn’t commented on the situation.



Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail than in the EU, where “anti-trust” doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to anymore.


With all the gnashing of teeth and wailing over this I’m glad that they are looking into it. If it’s problematic, catch it now and let Apple fix it before we’re too far down the road. If it passes legal muster then everyone else can just stop whining about it.


then everyone else can just stop whining about it.

They could stop whining…but they won’t.

Lee Dronick

Good point geoduck. If they are told to change the practice I am willing to bet that Apple already has at least one alternate plan ready to go.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apple has pretty much stepped on its own [expletive deleted by the App Store police]. Everyone in the industry knows it, which is why the big players are proceeding publicly like it’s not going to affect them. The DOJ, FTC, and EU only come in to examine the boot marks afterward and decide whether an amputation is warranted or whether a little Mercurochrome will heal the wounds.


Antitrust, which means exactly bubkus because it’s been so muddied over the years, is just what they want to incur. Muddy the waters.

If it’s “exclusivity” they’re referring to, it’s sort of hard to claim that when at least two other services are doing subscription models already…Google and PayPal. They have different terms of service, but they exist. It’s not a monopolized market.

More than one way to skin a cat.


If it passes legal muster then everyone else can just stop whining about it.

Legality is a pretty low standard for what constitutes good and ethical business practice. Sadly, many corporations today don’t even live up to that standard.

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