January 23rd, 2014
What exactly does Apple’s FTC settlement mean for developers?
By Wendy Goldman Geltzer
It was hard to avoid the news last week: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached a settlement with Apple over in-app purchases to the tune of at least US$32.5 million in consumer refunds. So what does this exactly mean – especially for developers? The scrutiny over in-app purchases in products that appeal to children has actually been ongoing for several years. Mobile platforms allow users to make purchases without cash or credit card in hand.
That process, combined with the unique ways in which children respond to sell messaging, is a heady combination. The headlines have told us that on occasion, children have been purchasing virtual goods in amounts totaling hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars at a time. Parents have been complaining, and Congress, the FTC and the UK’s Office of Fair Trading have taken notice.
To make a purchase within an app through the Apple store, the user has to enter their password. Unfortunately, that password remains active for a 15-minute window, something the FTC claims that Apple didn’t disclose to consumers.