Readability Tries Again With Apple — Has The Subscription Policy Already Shifted?

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A couple days ago, Readability was pissed off. In an open letter to Apple, they noted that the new subscription policy “smacks of greed”. And they threatened to abandon Apple’s platform in favor of the open web. This message resonated with many, as there’s a huge amount of unease about Apple’s new policy in the developer community. But now, just two days later, Readability has re-submitted their app to Apple for review. And apparently, a “love letter” to the company is forthcoming.

So why the change from war to peace? Has Apple’s policy already changed? Well, no — not yet, anyway. Readability’s Richard Ziade said his tweet was a “joke” and had this to say:

We did re-submit to Apple with an explanation of why we think they should approve Readability. We did not speak to anyone at Apple. We have no idea if they’ll approve it. We just explained ourselves as best we could through the appeal process.

So no good news yet, but there may be hope.

The reason for Readability initial outburst was because Apple rejected their app on the grounds that it didn’t use their in-app purchase system — the one that would require them to give 30 percent of their revenue to Apple. The company thought this was unfair and didn’t make a lot of sense because they think of themselves as a software as a service (SaaS) company that doesn’t actually sell content, but a service.

This matters because an email supposedly sent by Steve Jobs shortly after this incident claimed that the subscription rules were meant for “publishing apps, not SaaS apps”.

This is a bit of a gray area because Readability does sort of serve up content, but it’s not their content, it’s re-purposed content. Still, Apple taking 30 percent of their revenues would drastically alter their business model, and could have forced them to shut down, or simply not do an iPhone app.

How Apple approaches the app now post-Jobs comment will say a lot about their intentions for the policy going forward. As Ziade says, “stay tuned!”

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