Steve Jobs Unleashes Apple’s Dreaded New Subscription Plan

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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Steve Jobs finally announced Apple's long-feared subscription plan for apps. Consumers might not notice changes like the fact that app developers can now set up recurring payment plans for iPad/iPhone/iPod apps. But developers who want to sell subscriptions to their apps are pissed that they now have to sell through iTunes in addition to their own website — since Apple takes a 30 percent cut of anything sold in its store. If you already subscribe to an app, this doesn't change things until it comes time to renew. Under Jobs's new restrictions, any offer made elsewhere also has to appear "inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click." The thinking goes: If you can renew with one click, why go outside iTunes? But just in case, publishers are also prohibited from putting a link in their apps that takes the customer outside of Apple's walls to purchase content.

What's more, new rules don't just apply to newspapers and magazines, as hoped. They will cover "magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc” — which includes video apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus and music ones like Rhapsody and Spotify. Magazines like Time have already expressed their distaste for Apple's closed-off terms. Considering that decreased revenues could mean passing the cost down to consumers, it's possible that this announcement could send other digital magazines and apps into Google's open and willing Android arms. Why pay the cow when you can milk the platform for free?

*This post has been updated for clarification.

Apple Rolls Out Long-Awaited/Feared Subscription Plan [MediaMemo/AllThingsD]
Apple Launches Subscriptions on the App Store [Apple]