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Apple is making it possible for app developers to increase subscription prices by up to 50% – without the customer’s permission.

Until this week, if you subscribed to an app or service via the App Store, the developer was obliged to seek your explicit permission if they wished to increase the price of that subscription.

In an update to its policy, Apple claims this has “led to some services being unintentionally interrupted for users and they must take steps to resubscribe within the app, from Settings on iPhone and iPad, or in the App Store on Mac”.

Consequently, Apple is now allowing app developers to put up prices without first seeking the subscriber’s permission.

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On annual subscriptions, developers will be allowed to put up the price by no more than $50 or 50% of the current price. On subscriptions of a shorter duration, the increase must be no greater than $5 or 50% of the current price. In both cases, developers will only be allowed to implement a price increase once per year.

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Apple claims that users shouldn’t be caught unaware of the subscription price rises because “Apple always notifies users of an increase in advance, including via email, push notification, and a message within the app”.

Furthermore, if the developer wishes to increase the price by more than the previously stated limits, they will still need the explicit consent of the customer.

Although Apple presents the new subscription rules as a consumer benefit, it’s likely to be the app developers who benefit most. Asking customers to agree to a price rise inevitably leads to a drop off in subscriptions, to the point where most developers/publishers actively avoid implementing price increases because it’s less beneficial than leaving prices as they are.

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