Updated at 4:00 p.m. with comment from Apple.
While Apple's App Store policies have indeed been the source of frustration for many an iPhone developer, the overblown concerns over refund charges on Thursday do not rise to that level.
Contrary to earlier reports at TechCrunch and other outlets, Apple's policies regarding iPhone application refunds, and the portion of the refund that developers are expected to cover, are not new. (CNET took note of the issue as well.) They also do not faze most developers accustomed to the reality of operating an online retail business.
The hubbub arose after TechCrunch noticed a section of the iPhone 3.0 SDK agreement that contains this clause, thought to be a new development:
In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from any end-user that: (i) the end-user wishes to cancel its license to any of the Licensed Applications within ninety (90) days of the date of download of that Licensed Application by that end-user; or (ii) a Licensed Application fails to conform to Your specifications or Your product warranty or the requirements of any applicable law, Apple may refund to the end-user the full amount of the price paid by the end-user for that Licensed Application.
In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an end-user, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the end.
But upon further examination, several developers confirmed that this clause has been in the iPhone developer agreement since Day 1, and they seemed bemused at the lack of understanding regarding the world of online commerce and the iTunes Store.
First of all, returning a purchased application to the App Store is not a simple thing, and there is no provision for a 90-day refund stated in the terms of service for the App Store. The section in the App Store Terms and Conditions that pertains to refunds states:
On occasion, technical problems may delay or prevent delivery of your Product. Your exclusive and sole remedy with respect to Product that is not delivered within a reasonable period will be either replacement of such Product, or refund of the price paid for such Product, as determined by Apple. Otherwise, no refunds are available (emphasis added).
The section in the SDK agreement that mentions 90-day refunds seem to apply only if a purchaser brings a "notice or claim" against Apple in the process of trying to return the application. That's a legal term, not a request for a refund because you thought the fart application, for example, delivered six sounds when it has only five.… Read more