Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac:
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.
9to5Mac obtained access to a rejection email shared by a developer that provides a subscription service through their app. It shows a rejection message from Apple telling them that their app would not be approved because the prices of their in-app purchase products “do not reflect the value of the features and content offered to the user.” Apple’s email goes as far as calling it a “rip-off to customers” (you can read the full letter at the end of this post).
This is not Apple’s sole response to fighting App Store scams. iOS 14.5 has a subtly redesigned subscription sheet that more clearly displays the cost of the subscription and its payment term.
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.
I hope this helps. There are enough of these fleeceware scams in the store to be impacting its reputation. A crackdown is clearly necessary. The question is whether the App Store team is capable of executing it.