Apple Changes In-App Purchase Structure

By Michelle Amodio March 16, 2011

Not even a month after Apple was probed by the FTC for its practices of in-app marketing purchases to kids, Apple has finally changed the way it is doing things.

Recently, the Washington Post broke the story about the in-app scheme, citing that popular games such as Smurf’s Village, were selling “pretend purchases” to kids while the little gamers were unaware of the real costs behind their supposed innocuous acquisitions. Parents who allowed their children to use their iOS devices were surprised to find that their credit cards had amassed large sums of money due to “accidental” purchases, such as tokens and other items used for game play.

The complaint goes back to Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), in which he wrote to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz regarding the unethical practices of in-app purchases and was looking for a solution to the issue. Leibowitz assured that the matter was being addressed and that Apple’s marketing and delivery of the applications was being investigated, much to Markey’s pleasure.

This week, the Washington Post reported that Apple’s iOS 4.3, released yesterday, comes with a change that requires iPhone or iPad users to enter a password if they want to make an in-app purchase within 15 minutes of having downloaded a new app. 

"I am pleased that Apple has added new, clearer control settings and restrictions . . . it is important that consumers are protected and mobile devices don't become a 21st Century wallet in the hands of children who may not know any better," said Markey of the new update.

Users of iOS devices can also just switch of in-app purchases in the “Restrictions” section of the Settings app.

According to a few sources, Apple has reportedly been issuing refunds to parents who have complained about the mistaken purchases despite their being no refund policy for the App Store. Some experts speculated to the Wall Street Journal that Apple might be off the radar now that the update has been issued.

Michelle Amodio is a TechZone360 contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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