Steve Jobs says subscriptions are "for publishing apps" but confusion remains

Steve Jobs has weighed in on the ongoing in-app subscription debate, claiming that only publishers will be subject to the new restrictions. The Apple CEO's comments – sent as a traditionally terse reply to a developer email –  follow complaints by the developers of app Readability who found they had been rejected from the App Store for not handing over the 30-percent tithe. Readability argues it's software-as-a-service (SaaS), not a publishing app, which Jobs' has confirmed will not be affected.

According to MacRumors, a developer emailed Steve Jobs to query whether SaaS titles would be subject to the fees. His concern was that, since the iOS apps were accessing content or services that users were paying subscription fees for, they might fall under the umbrella of IAP:

Hello Steve,

As a full time iOS developer, I am concerned (and confused) withe the new App Store guideline regarding "Apps offering subscriptions" (section 11.12).

Most of the iOS apps I have developed, as a contractor for other businesses, have been free apps that had login screens to allow the user access to some amount of private data. and/or service. These businesses have all been well established companies that sell some kind of service to their customers (Software As a Service companies) and the iOS app was merely another "portal" for their users to access their data/services (in many times, in a limited i.e. "mobile" fashion).... for example; SalesForce. I am concerned that most of these businesses will choose to not develop an iOS app for their customers if the IAP & subscription policy was in place.

Would these type's of free apps be still be allowed in the App Store or will they now be expected to use IAP?

Jobs' reply – "We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps" – seems pretty straightforward, but the issue of how Apple's App Store guardians decide which is a publishing app and which is a SaaS app remains. Readability has seemingly fallen into this grey area, and it's likely to give other developers pause for thought until Apple suitably details its expectations.