Apple is settling a $100 million suit with a major modification to the anti-steering rule

Apple has proposed an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by US app developers. It includes a $100m payout. The company also stated that iOS developers will be able, with permission, to contact customers using the information they have collected from their apps. This is a change to Apple's anti-steering policy, which has been a major point of contention for many years between Apple and its critics.
Although the change is important for developers, it's not as significant as you might think. Apple updated its App Store Guidelines in June to allow developers to communicate outside of the apps. However, at the time they were not allowed to contact customers using information they had obtained from the app. They would have to find another way to get their contact information. This restriction will be removed if the proposed agreement is approved. It should make it easier to reach users. It is not the solution many developers were looking for. A way to inform users that they don't have to use Apple's in-app payment system or pay its 30 percent toll.

Apple's press release presents the whole settlement as an offer to developers. This includes the anti-steering clause. Apple also clarifies that developers can communicate with their customers via email to share information about payment methods other than their iOS app. Developers will not receive a commission for any purchase made outside their App Store or app. The communication must be consented to by the user. Users have the option to decline to receive it.

Apple has made a variety of concessions in the proposed agreement

As part of the Cameron et al v. Apple Inc proposal, the company is making a number other concessions. The biggest one being a $100 million payout to small developers who earned less than $1 million for their apps in each calendar year that they had an account.

Others points are:

A promise to maintain the App Store Small Business program, which allows developers earning less than $1,000,000 per year to apply to receive a 15% commission on their sales, in its current structure for at most the next three years.

Apple will release an annual report on the App Store's transparency. Apple promises that the annual transparency report about the App Store will contain meaningful statistics, such as the number and reasons for which apps were rejected, deactivated customer and developer accounts, and objective data regarding search queries.

Developers will have the ability to establish more than 500 price points in subscriptions, paid apps, and in-app purchases. They are currently limited to 100 prices, but developers will be able to offer a wider range.

Apple has committed to keeping the existing App Store Search system in operation for at least three years.

To help developers understand the appeals process, the company will provide unspecified amounts and types of additional information to the App Review website.

These proposed changes follow a major App Store change that Apple announced on Thursday. Apple will take a 15% cut of publishers' in-app purchases and subscriptions, if they sign up for Apple News instead.

Updated August 26, 2009, 9:46 ET: Clarified the specific changes to the anti-steering rules and other tweaks.