The Information’s battle to be allowed on Apple’s App Store highlights the power that Apple yield

Apple's strict App Story policy has often been called into question.

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Apple’s tight control over the software that appears in its App Store is old news – and no amount of protestations aimed at changing it have had any effect.

It’s unlikely that the example of The Information, a subscription-based publication, will be any different. In an article detailing the case, the publisher paints Apple as biased and unfair in enforcing the rules in its massive and lucrative market place.

Namely, the Information went through quite a process recently trying to launch its news app, only to see it rejected no fewer than four times before it was finally approved. Among the negative feedback were some UI-solutions, such as underlining “free trial” using red typeface, while another prohibited the publisher from requiring emails from its users – although Disney and the New York Times are allowed to do just that.

Another complaint from Apple’s reviewer had to do with the phrasing of the price of the app, that was allegedly not clear on when the free trial expires and the billing period begins.

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According to the article, the process was so painstaking and painful that the publisher felt the need to detail it as a cautionary tale to other developers, and highlight Apple’s enormous power over them.

A major obstacle in launching the app was Apple’s request to disable the option allowing Tech Top 10 users to preview articles and then subscribe. That’s because the publication’s separate subscription doesn’t go through the App Store and deprives Apple of its cut from every sale. The Information found a workaround by copying the way Amazon publishes its Audible app.

In order to satisfy Apple, the publisher also had to put free briefs from stories on the website behind a paywall, because the giant says news briefs in the app cannot be available for free on the website.

Meanwhile, the Android roll-out was a smooth experience – but 86 percent of the new app’s users are on iPhones. And these numbers are where Apple derives its power and arrogance towards app publishers – they simply can’t afford not to be on the App Store.

Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]