As part of Apple’s weekly App Store refresh, the company is currently highlighting iOS games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that are paid apps with no in-app purchases, MacStories points out. The featured section is notable as in-app purchases have been a source of confusion and frustration for many consumers since their introduction despite being an added revenue source for developers and Apple. Read more
Apple has introduced a small but interesting tweak to the way it markets apps on the App Store. As you can see in the screenshot above, non-paid apps are now presented with the word ‘GET’ rather than ‘FREE’. While the reason for the change in how Apple is presenting non-paid apps isn’t clear, it’s likely due to the popularity of ‘freemium’ apps and in-app purchases, something that has been the source of controversy for Apple in the past… Read more
Apple seemingly wasn’t too happy that it was singled out for an FTC investigation into making it too easy for children to make in-app purchases: following its own settlement back in January, the company’s general counsel Bruce Sewell promptly reported Google for the same thing, reports Politico.
“I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it,” Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill, pointing to a report that criticized Google’s app store over the same issue of unauthorized purchases …
With the latest update, The Iconfactory has changed their business model for Twitterrific rather dramatically. Up to now, Twitterrific has been available for iPhone and iPad for $2.99.
However, Twitterrific has now changed to a freemium business model. This means anyone can download the app for free as an ad-supported application. There is also a selection of unlockable features available as in-app purchases.
Apple has sent an email to customers who recently made in-app purchases on their iOS devices informing them that any purchases made by a minor were subject to a refund. This is the latest in a series of steps Apple has taken to ensure that children do not make unauthorized purchases on a parent’s device or iTunes account.
The email tells customers that if they suspect a purchase was made by a minor, they can request a refund by logging into their iTunes account and reporting a problem with the purchase:
The ties between Apple and Disney are tightening even more thanks to their unprecedented collaboration on the new Movies Anywhere app. This ambitious project has been percolating at Disney for years and aims to make purchasing and viewing digital content easier than ever.
A direct shot at UltraViolet, the Movies Anywhere app allows users to purchase and play movies within the app or through any device with access to your iTunes library. Previously purchased films on DVD, and Blu-ray can be added to the app if they shipped with a digital redemption code. All past iTunes purchases are eligible.
Users can simply connect their iTunes account to their Disney Movies Anywhere account to begin populating their Disney digital movie locker and watch movies online and on their devices. Featuring simultaneous access on multiple devices, Disney Movies Anywhere enables consumers to stream and download Disney movies on their iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Apple TV (through iCloud or using AirPlay).
Apple CEO Tim Cook informed Apple employees today via email that the company has settled with the United States Federal Trade Commision over an in-app purchases dispute. Cook says that Apple and the FTC have been negotiating for “several months.” The issue in the App Store comes down to the controversies surrounding children spending money too easily in the App Store without the consent of their parents.
Cook notes that “protecting children” has been a priority for everyone at Apple, and Cook notes that the App Store has industry leading controls for security and privacy, making the need to deal with the FTC surprising. Cook’s email details the safeguards in place for the in-app purchase system. Cook also notes the great lengths that Apple went to in order to appease customers who may have been harmed by in-app purchases:
Last year, we set out to refund any in-app purchase which may have been made without a parent’s permission. We wanted to reach every customer who might have been affected, so we sent emails to 28 million App Store customers – anyone who had made an in-app purchase in a game designed for kids. When some emails bounced, we mailed the parents postcards. In all, we received 37,000 claims and we will be reimbursing each one as promised.
Cook also says that it doesn’t feel right that the FTC intervened here. Alas, a settlement has been reached:
It doesn’t feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren’t already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight.
Here’s Cook’s email in full:
As first spotted by GigaOm, the US Department of Justice has submitted a revised remedy proposal in the ongoing ebook case that previously found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to control ebook pricing. While much of the proposal remains the same as the proposal it first submitted at the beginning of this month, the report points out that the DOJ has added more information and a Steve Jobs email as an exhibit showing that Apple changed its in-app purchasing policies specifically “to retaliate against Amazon for competitive conduct that Apple disapproved of.”
While referencing the email above in which Steve Jobs and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller discuss forcing Amazon to go through Apple’s payment system, the DOJ claims Apple “misrepresented the factual circumstances” since it allows other retailers to bypass its 30% cut: Read more
UK consumer watchdog the Office of Fair Trading is investigating in-app purchases in phone games aimed at children, reports the BBC.
The investigation was prompted by a 300% increase in complaints from consumers, and follows a high-profile UK case in which a police officer parent reported his own child for fraud after Apple refused to refund in-app purchases amounting to £3700 ($5680) … Read more
A police officer in the U.K. named Doug Crossan reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after Apple refused to refund £3,700 that the child ran up playing freemium App Store titles on his iPad. DailyMail has the story:
Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder, Nova 3. Many of them are free to download but users can buy in-game extras – in one game Cameron had purchased a virtual chest of gold coins costing £77.98.
But the technology company has refused and his only way of recouping the money is to report the purchases as being fraudulent. So Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, North Somerset, has shopped Cameron to the Action Fraud helpline – meaning his son could face arrest and questioning by the his father’s colleagues. He said: ‘I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it, but I had to have a crime reference number if there was any chance of getting any credit card payments refunded.
We reported last week that Apple was adding a new “offers in-app purchases” warning in the App Store to better inform consumers downloading free apps that additional content will require a fee. The move followed a settling a class action lawsuit that alleged children were able to rack up thousands of dollars through the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, with both parents and children under the impression that the games were free. Apple is refusing to refund Crossan, citing “parental responsibility and pointing out that iPads contain password locks to prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.”
Last time we checked in on the in-app purchase class-action lawsuit against Apple, courts refused Apple’s request to throw out the case brought on by parents arguing the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, allowed children to easily rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars. Today, Law360 (via GigaOM) reported Apple has agreed to pay a settlement and will be contacting 23 million iTunes users that “made a Game Currency purchase in one or more Qualified Apps.”
According to the report, Apple will pay $5 in iTunes credit to those who claim in-app content was purchased by a minor without their permission. For purchases above $30, users will be able to request a full refund. However, credits will likely not get to users until early 2014 when the settlement meets regulatory approval: Read more