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(Archived) What does Apple's subscription model mean for Evernote

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I've been reading a lot in the press recently about content publishers being unhappy about Apple's new subscription service. This is where Apple not only gets 30% of the cost of the app but also 30% of all in app subscriptions. Apple do allow publishers to offer subscriptions outside the app but they can't charge less for what they must offer in the app. So if the customer has a choice from clicking a button in the app or going off to some site and subscribing and both are costing the same, customers are going to choose the easy option, which is the apple option.

Over the last few days there has been a growing concern that this might also affect "software as a service" apps like Evernote, Dropbox etc. If this happens does this mean that Apple will now insist that these sorts off apps must allow customers to purchase subscriptions from within the app (and give 30% to apple) and that any pricing changes Evernote makes they must ensure that the in-app purchase must never be more expensive than on the website?

If i'm not mistaken Evernote already allows you to purchase a subscription from the app, the big question is does Apple currently take 30% of the revenue instead of it all going to Evernote? In the past when i've gone premium i've always done it from the website but it would be interesting to hear how this might affect Evernote. I'd want all my subscription to go to Evernote to improve the service, not give the evil Apple corp 30% of my subscription.

Hopefully this policy doesn't affect SaaS apps and it's just for Magazine subscriptions, e.g. content, rather than service, but it would be interesting to see if Apple pushes this.

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I think this came about because of the Readability app which got rejected because it circumvented the apple in-app subscription.

The thing with the readability app is that is doesn't sell content like magazines and other content publishers, it sells a service for a monthly fee, aka software-as-a-service. Does that model sound familiar?

Quote from the App store review guidelines.

11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected.
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Evernote does not sell "subscription" via AppStore.

You can buy 1 month, or 1 year.

It does not renew.

After your period ends, you are reverted to free, and you get an email telling you how to re-upgrade (with helpful links to our online purchase system.)

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Apple doesn't want free iOS programs that charge money in other manners without offering an iTunes payment option. Evernote's iOS application includes an option directly in our application to pay for your Evernote subscription via iTunes directly from the app. Our understanding is that this is ok ... Apple doesn't expect companies to *only* accept payments from iTunes, but rather that they accept iTunes if they also accept other payments.

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Ah so the option to purchase Evernote premium via the ios app is actually an Apple requirement? Don't Apple take a 30% cut if someone purchases their evernote subscription via the ios app instead of your website?

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lol right.

Evernote should add some text on their iap screen informing people of this, i'm sure most people would rather 100% of their money went to EN for future development rather than give a 30% cut to Apple.

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"Requirement" is probably too strong a word ... Apple's policies are enforced by humans rather than automated checks, so there's always some discretion. But our understanding is that we're offering appropriate payment options for a subscription-based service. FWIW, Tech Crunch used us as a canonical example of such a service yesterday:

http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/22/jobs-s ... hing-apps/

We're very happy when someone who installs us from the App Store pays for their subscription within the app (via iTunes). I think that Readability's problem was that they didn't offer any such option.

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What does this mean for the developer revenue share on premium upgrades. Today an app is incented to provide a link to the Evernote page to upgrade to premium (so the Dev gets a share). It sounds like apple would consider this a link to an external payment service and not allow it. Any plans to let third party apps transact the in app purchase upgrade to premium and take a rev share?

I can see this being tricky (I.e. Impossible) as the in app purchase has to be for developer listed skus and not for third party skus (like an Evernote one)...

Thoughts on this?

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Our affiliate program for partner applications doesn't send people to our "buy Evernote!" page, but rather to our general "sign up for Evernote" page. If someone installs an app on (e.g.) their iPhone that refers them to Evernote, then we'll keep track of where that user came from, and give the app developer the first $10 we make from that user, even if it's 6 months later. And we'll do this regardless of how the user pays ... so if the user pays for Evernote via iTunes, we'll still give the $10 referral payment to the partner.

We expect most people will use Evernote for a while before upgrading, so there's not much reason for partners to try to force a Premium upgrade on day 1.

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