Friday, February 19, 2021

Apple Store Polices “Irrationally High Prices”

Guilherme Rambo:

It looks like Apple has started to crack down on scam attempts by rejecting apps that look like they have subscriptions or other in-app purchases with prices that don’t seem reasonable to the App Review team.


We were initially skeptical about the veracity of this email given some of the wording choices, but looking through Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, it’s possible to find the term “rip-off” at least twice, such as in section 3, where Apple states that “we won’t distribute apps and in-app purchase items that are clear rip-offs.”

In contact with the developer of the rejected app, we were able to verify the authenticity of the rejection email from Apple. Unfortunately in this case, it seems clear that the rejection was a mistake.

See also: Ilia Kukharev.

Paul Haddad:

“Please note that App Store Review cannot make specific recommendations on the price for your app” Isn’t that exactly what they are doing?

If Apple thinks these prices are rip-offs shouldn’t they proactively refund anyone who paid those prices?

Francisco Tolmasky:

I wonder if Apple will apply the same rule to themselves to explain their iCloud and RAM pricing decisions…

Ryan Jones:

These apps will either a) change the price for review then instantly change it back b) lower by $1 and keep submitting until they find the max.

Paulo Andrade:

Maybe it’s just me but mandating the use of Apple provided views for subscribing (with clear monthly and yearly values) as well as an Apple provided view to display in-app for unsubscribing sounds like a better solution then having app review decide what’s worthy or not.


Update (2021-02-22): John Gruber:

This is exactly the sort of crackdown I’ve been advocating for years. A bunco squad that looks for scams, starting with apps that (a) have high-priced in-app purchases and subscriptions, and (b) are generating a lot of money. Ideally Apple will crack down on all scams, but practically speaking, all that matters is that they identify and eliminate successful scams — and identify the scammers behind them and keep them out of the store.

Kosta Eleftheriou:

Apple trying to crack down on “irrational” pricing is an admission that @AppStore ratings just don’t work.

Fix the FAKE RATINGS and people will make it clear if some app’s price-to-value offering is bonkers.

David Barnard:

Apple appears to making some changes to the “buy sheet” on iOS 14.5. Not quite as dramatic as I hope they’ll eventually do, but headed the right direction.

Nick Heer:

I have waffled a bit on whether it makes sense for Apple to be the filter for the appropriateness of app pricing. It has always been a little bit at the mercy of Apple’s discretion — remember the I Am Rich app? — but legitimate developers have concerns about whether their apps will be second-guessed by some reviewer as being too expensive. And I am quite sure that, if the hypothetical becomes a reality, it is likely to be resolved with a few emails. But developers’ livelihoods are often on the line; there are no alternative native app marketplaces on iOS.

The proof of this strategy’s success will be in Apple’s execution, but that in itself is a little worrisome. It is a largely subjective measure; who is an app reviewer to say whether an app is worth five dollars a week or five dollars a month? Apple does not have a history of wild incompetence with its handling of the App Store, but there are enough stories of mistakes and heavy-handedness that this is being viewed as a potential concern even by longstanding developers of high-quality apps.

Update (2021-09-08): Ilia Kukharev:

Now confirmed: Apple is rejecting apps with irrationally high prices for in-apps and subscriptions.

You have to explain why are you charging like $7.99 per week. Because of using 3rd-party paid services, or something similar.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Now if only they'd reject all those 99c apps for having "irrationally low prices".

I really don’t think Apple should be in the position of telling businesses what they can and can’t charge for the software they write.

I like Paulo Andrade’s solution of a standard UI for subscription confirmation views much better.

Francisco Tolmasky: “I wonder if Apple will apply the same rule to themselves to explain their iCloud and RAM pricing decisions…”


Meanwhile, over on macOS:

Honestly, selling apps for a living is so… 2010s. Canned goods and shotguns; that’s the Next Big Thing.

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