Earl Wilkinson Earl Wilkinson, CEO, International Newsmedia Marketing Association. Image: INMA
There is "little evidence" that changes to Apple's subscription rules were communicated privately to publishers, according to the CEO of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association.

Yesterday it appeared Apple had backtracked over its app subscription guidelines, relaxing rules for publishers, to no longer require external subscriptions to be offered as an in-app purchase.

When Apple launched its new subscription rules in February it confirmed that publishers would be allowed to sell app subscriptions through their own websites, bypassing Apple's 30 per cent stake, but only if subscriptions are also offered within the app for the same price or less.

The decision caused concerns in the industry, with the International Newsmedia Marketing Association's CEO Earl Wilkinson warning that news publishers would not be able to invest in new technology, products and services as a result.

But according to "updated" guidelines revealed yesterday, the requirement for subscriptions to also be available as in-app purchases appears to have been removed, as well as the need for them to be "the same price or less".

Responding to the news Wilkinson said the changes signified a "relaxation" of its policy which he had previously called "a reversal of the spirit of creative cooperation" with news publishers that helped launch the iPad.

"In typical Apple fashion, they have changed the rules ― again ― without explaining them. It took the trade press to uncover that a policy change had even been made. There is little evidence anything was communicated privately to publishers."

He added that it is likely the changes to the rules will be "more cost-effective", with publishers able to sell iPad apps in the App Store at a premium and outside the app at whatever cost they wish.

"Previously, the App Store price must be matched with the price outside the App Store, which severely twisted the publisher's ability to bundle apps with web with print — the clear direction of our industry."

Apple had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

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