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Why You Can't Have a Moneybomb App

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, September 21 2010

Photo credit: Florian Leroy

An Apple spokesperson follows up on this question of why you'll find yourself rejected from the iTunes store if you attempt to build an iPhone or iPad app that takes political donations or charitable contributions.

Apple's "70/30" revenue-sharing model is, it seems, the primary condition holding you back. Under that model, developers retain the bulk of the money that comes their way through the iTunes store, but Apple still retains nearly a third of the cash. That "complicates things" when it comes to donations, says the spokesperson. That's because the 70/30 split applies not only to points-of-purchase in the iTunes store, but also on so-called in-app transactions, whether that's buying a digital harvester in FarmVille's iPhone app or the newest edition of Vanity Fair in that magazine's iPad app. Says the spokesperson, "the last thing that Apple wants is to take money going to a charitable organization." Or, for that matter, the Smith for Senate campaign.

(A secondary concern is the possiblity of fraud raised by contribution apps, though the spokesperson noted that they have teams dedicated to protecting against such things.)

In order for a political campaign or advocacy group to collect funds through their iOS app and still get it approved by the powers-that-be at Apple, they need to push would-be contributors outside their app to make an online contribution, primarily through the baked-in Safari browser that comes pre-installed on iPhones and iPads.