In media win, Apple relaxes rules for content

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Apple Inc has backtracked on demands it planned to impose on media sold through its App Store, handing a big victory to content publishers that had resisted its original terms.

Apple is now allowing publishers to set their own pricing for subscriptions outside the App Store. It also no longer requires publishers to sell subscriptions within the App Store.

IPad and iPhone users can now read magazines and books, or play music and videos bought outside of Apple’s App Store as long as there is no button or external link in it to purchase the content, the company said Thursday.

Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is purchased outside of the app.

The news was first reported by MacRumors.

Apple started a subscription service for magazines, newspapers, videos and music in February with little support from major publishers such as Time Warner’s Time Inc, Conde Nast and Hearst.

At that time, publishers were allowed to set the price and length of subscriptions. They could also offer subscriptions through their own websites, but had to offer those same terms to anyone signing up through Apple.

Apple keeps 30 percent of revenue of any subscription purchased directly through the App Store.

Many publishers complained that the fee was too onerous and that Apple kept much of the customer data when the subscription was purchased through the App Store.

The App Store is an online site where iPad and iPhone customers can download software, including newspaper applications and games.

In recent months, some publishers including Conde Nast, which owns titles such as the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, reached a deal with Apple to sell subscriptions in the App Store.

On Monday, the Financial Times put up a Web-based version of its mobile application for smartphones and tablet computers, essentially freeing itself from the confines of the App Store.

Shares of Apple were down 13 cents at $332.11 in afternoon trading. (Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York and Poornima Gupta in San Francisco, editing by Maureen Bavdek and Lisa Von Ahn)