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I'm not sure the SBB will sue Apple. Their relationship is a little bit more complex than mere two unrelated companies:

Some context: The iPhone has a huge penetration rate in Switzerland (2.9 million devices sold for a population of 8 million people). Switzerland also has very good public transportation, held together by the train system of the SBB. And therefore, almost every iPhone user has the SBB Mobile App installed (http://itunes.apple.com/ch/app/sbb-mobile/id294855237?mt=8), 60-80% from what I heard. Which would put the install base to 1.5 to 2 million installations.

The elephant in the room is now this: Within this app, you are able to buy tickets. Train tickets, bus tickets, boat tickets. Not via in-app purchases, everything goes through the SBB ticketing system.

This has been working for three years now. Apple never blocked the app, despite it being in violation of some of the more prominent rules of the App Store.

My sources within SBB claim that there is no special agreement in place, mere toleration by Apple. I don't know if that's true, but one thing is for certain: The SBB has little interest of fighting with Apple on this front.

And Apple might not want to alienate such a huge user base, who would probably feel more loyalty to the SBB than to Apple, but that's pure speculation on my part.

On the other hand is the SBB fiercly proud of their design achievments, the clock in particular. Maybe that part of the SBB company (30 000 employees) doesn't care about electronic ticketing and will pursue Apple anyway.

In-App purchases are for digital goods only (Content, Functionality, Services, Subscriptions). You are completely free to sell real/physical goods (ie. a train ticket) via your own payment system.


"You must deliver your digital good or service within your app. Do not use In-App Purchase to sell real-world goods and services."

It amazes me how many people continue to misunderstand App Store rules and quote bullshit on a daily basis.

In-App Purchasing rules apply to purchasing books in an e-reader, levels in a video game, or music in a player, etc.

It doesn't apply at all to real-world items. (This includes something like train tickets via Passbook because they are not consumed in the app, they are consumed by the train conductor scanning your phone.)

Oh, I wasn't aware of this distinction.

Has Apple ever cracked down on apps that allow the purchase of physical things for not using in-App purchases?

IIRC the only time this has gotten sticky, is when it comes to apps that allow users to buy access to more content that is accessed by that app. (e.g. buying new issues of digital magazines, buying access to new in-game content, buying new ebooks, buying new digital music, etc)

Are there any public transport companies that sell tickets as in-app purchases?

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