In-app purchase changes

With the recent release of “The Daily”:http://www.thedaily.com/ and the news of “Sony’s e-book app rejection”:http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/02/change-in-apple-policy-has-e-book-fans-worried-about-their-apps.ars, there’s speculation that Apple will change the rules around iOS in-app purchases. The 30% cut makes it difficult for some businesses to move to the App Store without passing a cost increase on to customers.

Other than “no change”, I’ve only heard two possible solutions:

Special deals for the big guys. Amazon and other retailers could negotiate lower rates. But as Marco mentioned on “Build and Analyze”:http://5by5.tv/buildanalyze/11, the App Store treats large and small developers as equals. It’s a real strength that a 2-person game company can compete with Electronic Arts. I hope we never lose that.

Lower percentage for everyone. Not going to happen. Take an app like Twitterrific. I consider it a $5 app, but to the store it’s actually a free app with a $5 in-app upgrade. Lowering the in-app cut would encourage many previously paid apps to convert to free and pay less to Apple.

This is why I believe the only option is for Apple to distinguish between in-app content and features. Content purchases, such as e-books or virtual game items, would be in one class of payment. Feature upgrades, such as unlocking core functionality in the app, would continue to be 30%, same as paid downloads.

Is it confusing for developers? Is it totally subjective and up to the judgement of the review team? Yes. Welcome to the App Store.