updated 06:25 pm EDT, Tue March 15, 2011
Kindle and Netflix clear iOS rules
Apple showed possible leniency on its in-app subscription and in-app purchase rules on Tuesday by allowing through new versions of the Amazon Kindle (free, App Store) and Netflix (free, App Store) iPhone and iPad apps. Despite Apple's rules banning links to outside purchasing systems and requiring the official iTunes in-app system when an outside one exists, the Kindle 2.6.1 app still takes users to the web-based Kindle Store. Netflix' 1.2 update also still hsa its existing set and lets users subscribe to the service on the web without also having an iTunes option.
The company had partly backtracked on the rules when CEO Steve Jobs said the new subscription rules were only for publishers and not subscription-as-a-service providers, but it has remained inconsistent both for this and in-app purchases. It publicly kicked out Sony's Reader despite using a web store approach virtually identical to Amazon's Kindle app. Likewise, it hasn't said whether publishers was limited to print or included audio and video.
They may have remained unchanged due to Apple's end-of-June deadline for many of the changes, but Apple has already been rejecting apps for not following the new rules. A possibility exists that Apple has partly backed off after early FTC investigations that may have been a warning about anti-competitive behavior.
Apple is also known to occasionally exempt major companies from rules when they help drive customers or would be too large to oust without facing a lawsuit or other retaliation. It put out a rule banning apps that explicitly traded on sexuality but promptly defended its keeping the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition app on the argument that it fit a culturally accepted norm. Amazon and Netflix are considered two of the most important iOS app providers and would both lose Apple customers and possibly trigger a legal response if they were forced out.
Apple hasn't commented on the approvals. [via TechCrunch]