It’s no secret that Apple is constantly trying to create a closed system where it controls every aspect of the app ecosystem. From purchasing, downloading and developing apps, Apple wants to be the go-to provider of infrastructure and its in-app payment system is no exception.
Recently, the NYT printed an article about the Sony eReader’s rejection from App Store due to the fact that they didn’t use Apple’s in-app payment system, but rather their own to save themselves having to give 30% to Apple. An Apple spokesperson responded saying:
“We have not changed our developer terms or guidelines. We are now requiring that if an app offers customers the ability to purchase books outside of the app, that the same option is also available to customers from within the app with in-app purchase.”
So Apple will not let developers use solely their own in-app purchasing system, but will allow them to use both. The problem with this is that users will inevitably flock to Apple’s system, but developers will want to push their own payment systems up front to save giving away the revenue.
On the other smartphone hand, RIM could care less what system the developer uses and simply offers the in-app payment solution (BlackBerry Payment Service) as a way of complementing their apps if they choose to use it. Shazam and Slacker are great examples of apps that are distributed free through App World and then leverage their own payment infrastructure for purchase (one time and subscription respectively). This highlights one of the biggest differences between RIM and Apple: openness. Not only is RIM open with its Payment Service and distribution options for developers, but they have PayPal, credit card and carrier billing as options for consumers.
By not locking apps down and letting developers choose their own distribution and monetization methods, as well as giving consumers a variety of options, you’re creating an app ecoysystem where the market dictates what’s best.
NOTE: While we can’t find any legal documentation about RIM’s stance on developers using RIM’s Payment Service versus their own methods, we got the official word from RIM to help write this article. To quote Alex Kinsella of RIM’s App World team: “As you know, RIM does not restrict our developers to our own payment system – and this has been the way since launch.” Respect.
You can also read MG Siegler’s point which is “That’s not evil. That’s business.” While nobody is denying that Apple’s app revenues are astounding, RIM will soon prove that openness is the best business policy.