Apple May Undergo Anti-Trust Investigation For Subscriptions

Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have reported that Apple’s new subscription billing service for iPad and iPhone apps, has caught the eye of federal antitrust regulators.

The New York Times spoke to a person “with direct knowledge of the matter”: “The person, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because the government inquiries were confidential, said on Thursday that the regulators’ interest was preliminary and might not develop into a formal investigation.”

Apple announced the new subscription plan for content publishers earlier this week. It requires that publishers and content sellers remove any links within their apps to outside-the-App Store purchasing options. And, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app. Under the terms of the subscription model, Apple handles the billing and will keep a 30% cut when they bring in a new subscriber. This will affect eBook sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, directly.