Considering Alternative App Payment Methods
John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball about Apple’s recent white paper:
But that last point, that all in-app subscriptions are listed in an obvious location, where it’s easy to unsubscribe, and you get email notifications before every renewal, is the singular reason why I think Apple should not — and should not be forced to — allow in-app purchases and especially subscriptions via developers’ own payment systems. What I endorse is allowing apps to direct users to the web to make purchases and subscriptions. In-app purchases vs. out-app purchases. Let Apple earn its cut by showing that in-app purchases have higher conversions.
For the past few weeks, while I’ve been ruminating on how Apple should adapt their in-app purchase guidelines, I’ve been struggling with this point. Side-by-side, customers will likely choose the lower-cost item. But in apps, where people are now used to the protections of one subscription center, one place for refunds, and the security of purchasing through your Apple ID, I think John’s suggestion is a good compromise. Apple’s in-app purchase model while in apps or let developers link to the open web for another purchase method.
Customers should be used to the higher relative threat of purchasing on the web, and therefore take appropriate precautions before hitting “Buy.” Does this still give an advantage to Apple? Sure, but I think it’s an appropriate compromise.