Viability of app using subscriptions that can be bought outside of the App Store (like Netflix)

We've been reading the App Store Review Guidelinesand would like to know if it is possible to have an app with the following features (it's very similar to Netflix) successfully pass the App Store review (without considering everything else that might fail review):


1. The app is free to download but needs an account and a subscription to access its content, which will be regularly updated.

2. Outside of iOS, the subscription can be made using any payment method we support (credit card, PayPal, etc), but on iOS the subscription would only support the iTunes payment system. If the user account already has a subscription paid for with another system, he/she won't have to pay again using iTunes.

3. There would be license keys (i.e. unlock codes) for our app that are associated with a physical product, such as in a bundle of instruments for kids. The user can insert one instead of paying for the subscription that year, as the license essentially acts as a one-year subscription.


According to the guidelines, point 3 seems possible (please confirm if we are correct):


> "3.1.4 Content Codes: Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, (...). App features that work in combination with an approved physical product (such as a toy) on an optional basis may unlock functionality without using in-app purchase, provided that an in-app purchase option is available as well. (...)"


However, we couldn't find confirmation regarding point 2, even though Netflix does it. We understand that in-app purchases must use iTunes to unlock content, so we would only offer that:


> "3.1.1 In-App Purchase: If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase."


However, if the user has paid for his/her subscription using a system other than iTunes, we cannot ask the user to pay for it again, and couldn't find info regarding this in the guidelines.


Thank you for the help!


PS: We sent this to Apple support, but we got a very unhelpful response saying "We are not able to preapprove proposed app ideas or concepts without reviewing the app itself. Therefore, we recommend that you submit your app for review." and suggesting that we read the guidelines again.

Solved Answer

NetFlix operates under 3.1.3. If you don't fit that then you must use IAP.


3.1.3 “Reader” Apps: Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as educational apps that manage student grades and schedules), as well as consumable items in multi-platform games, provided that you agree not to directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of in-app purchase.

Replies

NetFlix operates under 3.1.3. If you don't fit that then you must use IAP.


3.1.3 “Reader” Apps: Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as educational apps that manage student grades and schedules), as well as consumable items in multi-platform games, provided that you agree not to directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of in-app purchase.

Thank you very much for your reply. We hadn't noticed that that point answered our question.


Additionally, do you know what the guidelines mean by "approved physical product" in point 3.1.4? We also wanted to confirm if codes are acceptable. I assume we have to send pictures or links to the physical product in the review notes so that they can check its info and age rating, but I honestly couldn't find anything about this.