Does SkyDrive need to play by Apple’s rules?

By Kip Kniskern | In News | Posted December 11, 2012 30 comments

skydrive-logoYesterday, The Next Web broke a story on some problems between Apple’s App Store and Microsoft’s attempts to update its SkyDrive for iOS app, which was confirmed to The Verge today by Microsoft.  In a nutshell, since Microsoft offers upgraded storage for a fee, Apple wants a 30% cut if a user purchases upgraded storage through an iOS app, and because SkyDrive has a “sign up” button on its login page, Apple wants to limit 3rd party apps that utilize SkyDrive storage, too.

Apple introduced its new subscription policy back in February 2011, described in a press release, and is pretty clear about what it expects from apps on the App Store.  Apps must pay Apple a 30% share of new subscriber revenue, any subscriptions offered outside the app must also be available from within that app, so that “customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app”, and “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app”.

The problem, or one problem, is that SkyDrive’s extra storage, which is a one time purchase of additional storage, does not fit cleanly into Apple’s model, and Microsoft is apparently balking at the idea of paying Apple 30% of a purchase fee that may or may not ever be accessed from an iOS app again.  The Next Web explains:

Microsoft does not appear keen to pay Apple the 30% cut, as it lasts in perpetuity, regardless of whether a user continues to use an iOS device or not, as the billing is through their Apple account.

Therefore, if a user signed up for a few additional gigabytes on their iOS device, and then moved to Android or Windows Phone or not phone at all, for the length of their account, Apple would collect 30% of their fee for storage. This hasn’t sat well with Microsoft.

Microsoft has persisted in trying to work out a compromise with Apple, but has thus far failed to come to an agreement. The company offered to remove all subscription options from its application, leaving it a non-revenue generating experience on iOS. The offer was rebuffed.

 

So while additional SkyDrive storage doesn’t appear to be a “subscription service”, even as defined by Apple’s press release:

Apple® today announced a new subscription service available to all publishers of content-based apps on the App Store℠, including magazines, newspapers, video, music, etc.

…Apple still intends to take its cut, and unless Microsoft and Apple can come to agreement, Microsoft’s strategy of cross platform access to its products and services may take a hit.

What do you think, is SkyDrive a “content-based” subscription service, or should Apple back off?

Posted December 11th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
Category: News
Tags: Apple, SkyDrive
  • efjay

    What stands out to me is that apple is stopping developers from using SkyDrive in their apps for storage, how is that subscription the same as directly buying more storage from the SkyDrive app? They are basically saying they want a cut of what devs are paying to a 3rd party to provide an app, does that make sense?

  • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

    What stands out to me is that apple is stopping developers from using SkyDrive in their apps for storage, how is that subscription the same as directly buying more storage from the SkyDrive app? They are basically saying they want a cut of what devs are paying to a 3rd party to provide an app, does that make sense?

  • jkth

    trying really hard to put my Microsoft bias to one side but I simply cannot excuse Apple’s policy here. Have we really come to this? A company is so powerful that it can demand a cut of a service fee even if the service may never be accessed via that company’s products? I’ll bet if this were 1999 and the roles were reversed there would be an outcry from the tech press. I guess its OK these days tho, as long as its Apple.

  • jkth

    trying really hard to put my Microsoft bias to one side but I simply cannot excuse Apple’s policy here. Have we really come to this? A company is so powerful that it can demand a cut of a service fee even if the service may never be accessed via that company’s products? I’ll bet if this were 1999 and the roles were reversed there would be an outcry from the tech press. I guess its OK these days tho, as long as its Apple.

  • Boris Mihaylov

    As an iOS user I would prefer Microsoft’s apps work on the platform, but screw Apple – they’re becoming insane with their restrictive policies! As soon as Microsoft streamline their services across the EU states and fix their own language-region limitation crap I’m switching.

  • http://twitter.com/tuzem_2 Boris Mihaylov

    As an iOS user I would prefer Microsoft’s apps work on the platform, but screw Apple – they’re becoming insane with their restrictive policies! As soon as Microsoft streamline their services across the EU states and fix their own language-region limitation crap I’m switching.

  • http://twitter.com/richardjgreen Richard J Green

    I think a lot of the comments here are going to be pro-Microsoft based on the demographic of the site. With that in mind, I can see Apple’s complaint based on their policies, but forcing the producers of the apps to have a button which allows Apple to claim 30% of any revenue and not allowing people to go the content providers site to upgrade or the like is crazy. If I was a content provider, sure I want to make it easy for people to upgrade, but what will the ratio of new subscribers because of the iOS functionality outweigh the 30% profit loss? Microsoft are the kind of company who could swallow that 30% but in reality I think they should say tough; you chose to use an iOS device so don’t get 100% of the features.
    This will have big potential implications for Microsoft with Skype I suspect and what next? Will Apple say that if someone uses an Office Web App then switches to their desktop to continue working that they want 30% of the price of the Office desktop CAL, or using a Lync client on their iOS device that they expect 30% of the server and client device CAL licensing costs to be paid to them?
    It’s policies like these that should help drive content providers to Android and Windows Phone, but sadly consumer ignorance continues to fuel the iOS fire.

  • http://twitter.com/richardjgreen Richard J Green

    I think a lot of the comments here are going to be pro-Microsoft based on the demographic of the site. With that in mind, I can see Apple’s complaint based on their policies, but forcing the producers of the apps to have a button which allows Apple to claim 30% of any revenue and not allowing people to go the content providers site to upgrade or the like is crazy. If I was a content provider, sure I want to make it easy for people to upgrade, but what will the ratio of new subscribers because of the iOS functionality outweigh the 30% profit loss? Microsoft are the kind of company who could swallow that 30% but in reality I think they should say tough; you chose to use an iOS device so don’t get 100% of the features.
    This will have big potential implications for Microsoft with Skype I suspect and what next? Will Apple say that if someone uses an Office Web App then switches to their desktop to continue working that they want 30% of the price of the Office desktop CAL, or using a Lync client on their iOS device that they expect 30% of the server and client device CAL licensing costs to be paid to them?
    It’s policies like these that should help drive content providers to Android and Windows Phone, but sadly consumer ignorance continues to fuel the iOS fire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iain.simpson.127 Iain Simpson

    If Apple wants to play silly buggers then MS should just charge isheep users for bucks more

    • Simon Johnny

      Not too long ago, the tables were turned. The likes of Apple would have bent over backwards to get the latest Microsoft tech into their products. Now, we have Apple firmly gripping Microsoft by the goolies.
      I don’t think its right that Apple users should be punished for Apple’s own forthcomings; however, I think Apple themselves are heading towards a position where either other companies are going to revolt against them due to the annoyingly restrictive (Apple) practices or its users are.
      Android already own a lot more market place then Apple and Microsoft is pushing hard with its Windows 8 devices and cloud services, Apple could very soon and very quickly go back to what they came from.
      Right now, there aren’t many Windows Phone users. Certainly Apple dwarfs Microsoft in terms of active hand sets. Here’s the catch though. Microsoft dwarfs Apple in Microsoft Accounts and with the uptake of Windows 8 on the rise, xbox and existing Hotmail accounts, cloud services such as Skydrive are already a big user base before Microsoft even starts selling Windows 8 and Windows Phones to the masses. Even more so when Skydrive is launched on the 360 and all the kids and parents start to look in to it and talk about it more.
      Apple could have hit Microsoft head one, they had the upper hand for for quite a few years and made little traction on the desktop space. Microsoft is now using it’s own presence on the desktop as leverage. It’s a shame, I actually like Mac OS X, They could have marketed their Mac Mini as a replacement desktop to go along with their iphone/ipod sales and had a huge market. Instead they kept with the insane mark-up on their Mac.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iain.simpson.127 Iain Simpson

    If Apple wants to play silly buggers then MS should just charge isheep users for bucks more

    • Simon Johnny

      Not too long ago, the tables were turned. The likes of Apple would have bent over backwards to get the latest Microsoft tech into their products. Now, we have Apple firmly gripping Microsoft by the goolies.
      I don’t think its right that Apple users should be punished for Apple’s own forthcomings; however, I think Apple themselves are heading towards a position where either other companies are going to revolt against them due to the annoyingly restrictive (Apple) practices or its users are.
      Android already own a lot more market place then Apple and Microsoft is pushing hard with its Windows 8 devices and cloud services, Apple could very soon and very quickly go back to what they came from.
      Right now, there aren’t many Windows Phone users. Certainly Apple dwarfs Microsoft in terms of active hand sets. Here’s the catch though. Microsoft dwarfs Apple in Microsoft Accounts and with the uptake of Windows 8 on the rise, xbox and existing Hotmail accounts, cloud services such as Skydrive are already a big user base before Microsoft even starts selling Windows 8 and Windows Phones to the masses. Even more so when Skydrive is launched on the 360 and all the kids and parents start to look in to it and talk about it more.
      Apple could have hit Microsoft head one, they had the upper hand for for quite a few years and made little traction on the desktop space. Microsoft is now using it’s own presence on the desktop as leverage. It’s a shame, I actually like Mac OS X, They could have marketed their Mac Mini as a replacement desktop to go along with their iphone/ipod sales and had a huge market. Instead they kept with the insane mark-up on their Mac.

  • Swanny246

    Would Skydrive’s space purchasing option count as an in-app purchase or a subscription? The Kindle app went through the same hurdle, where they tried to link to Amazon’s web site to purchase ebooks, but Apple didn’t like that as it was bypassing in-app purchasing, and therefore their 30% cut. The Kindle app ended up having the link removed, and that was enough to let it continue to exist on the App Store.

    If Apple is really rejecting the Skydrive app, even with MS willing to remove all links to purchase any more space, then that is BS in my opinion.

  • Swanny246

    Would Skydrive’s space purchasing option count as an in-app purchase or a subscription? The Kindle app went through the same hurdle, where they tried to link to Amazon’s web site to purchase ebooks, but Apple didn’t like that as it was bypassing in-app purchasing, and therefore their 30% cut. The Kindle app ended up having the link removed, and that was enough to let it continue to exist on the App Store.

    If Apple is really rejecting the Skydrive app, even with MS willing to remove all links to purchase any more space, then that is BS in my opinion.

  • TheRickshaw

    Sure Apple, just make sure you start charging Netflix, Hulu+, Box, Amazon Instant Video, Audible etc. etc. the same 30%.

    • domanite

      Exactly – do you think HBO gives 30% of their subscriptions to Apple because they offer an HBO Go app?

  • TheRickshaw

    Sure Apple, just make sure you start charging Netflix, Hulu+, Box, Amazon Instant Video, Audible etc. etc. the same 30%.

    • domanite

      Exactly – do you think HBO gives 30% of their subscriptions to Apple because they offer an HBO Go app?

  • Sheng Jiang

    No Microsoft want to play by the same rules DropBox and Amazon played and Apple says screw you, you can’t have a sign up link for a free Microsoft account.

  • Sheng Jiang

    No Microsoft want to play by the same rules DropBox and Amazon played and Apple says screw you, you can’t have a sign up link for a free Microsoft account.

  • seth thomas

    would it not work for Microsoft to have an iOS access fee which is used to install the app? Beyond the app Apple would not have rights to the rest of their products and services.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SethThomas98 Seth Thomas

    would it not work for Microsoft to have an iOS access fee which is used to install the app? Beyond the app Apple would not have rights to the rest of their products and services.

  • Geek.com Reader

    Is it sure that this is the case? From Geek.com

    “While it’s been reported by some that Microsoft’s own SkyDrive app is under scrutiny, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The issue isn’t the SkyDrive app at all, and it’s not about Apple wanting to grab a 30% cut of SkyDrive storage upgrades purchased through the app — because there’s currently no way to do that.

    The real problem is Microsoft’s login page for SkyDrive. Below the sign in boxes, there’s a link to sign up for the service. That’s a no-no in Apple’s book, as it constitutes a “link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app.” Apple, of course, wants any subscriptions or purchases like this initiated from within an iOS app to utilize its own purchasing mechanisms. SkyDrive on the web, of course, does not.

    (…)

    What Microsoft needs to do to satisfy Apple and help out third-party developers whose apps feature SkyDrive integration is to remove the sign-up link from the SkyDrive login page.”

    http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/apple-starts-blocking-skydrive-apps-due-to-subscription-link-20121211/

  • Geek.com Reader

    Is it sure that this is the case? From Geek.com

    “While it’s been reported by some that Microsoft’s own SkyDrive app is under scrutiny, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The issue isn’t the SkyDrive app at all, and it’s not about Apple wanting to grab a 30% cut of SkyDrive storage upgrades purchased through the app — because there’s currently no way to do that.

    The real problem is Microsoft’s login page for SkyDrive. Below the sign in boxes, there’s a link to sign up for the service. That’s a no-no in Apple’s book, as it constitutes a “link to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app.” Apple, of course, wants any subscriptions or purchases like this initiated from within an iOS app to utilize its own purchasing mechanisms. SkyDrive on the web, of course, does not.

    (…)

    What Microsoft needs to do to satisfy Apple and help out third-party developers whose apps feature SkyDrive integration is to remove the sign-up link from the SkyDrive login page.”

    http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/apple-starts-blocking-skydrive-apps-due-to-subscription-link-20121211/

  • JSYOUNG571

    NO! Apple fans want Skydrive, then buy a Windows Phone and give the middle finger to Apple.

    • TheRickshaw

      Please don’t tell me YOU are suggesting that anyone buy a Windows Phone. I can’t believe you missed your opportunity to bring up that Android is not playing these shenanigans.

      • JSYOUNG571

        I feel if you want the full functionality of using Skydrive, you should buy a Windows Phone. Android has G-drive. Apple is really the only lost soul relying on third party applications for everything.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am still livid with Microsoft for what they did to current owners of Windows Phone 7.5, but I am not above speaking on some good features it has.

  • JSYOUNG571

    NO! Apple fans want Skydrive, then buy a Windows Phone and give the middle finger to Apple.

    • TheRickshaw

      Please don’t tell me YOU are suggesting that anyone buy a Windows Phone. I can’t believe you missed your opportunity to bring up that Android is not playing these shenanigans.

      • JSYOUNG571

        I feel if you want the full functionality of using Skydrive, you should buy a Windows Phone. Android has G-drive. Apple is really the only lost soul relying on third party applications for everything.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am still livid with Microsoft for what they did to current owners of Windows Phone 7.5, but I am not above speaking on some good features it has.