February 25, 2011
This isn’t surprising: The Federal Trade Commission is expected to review Apple’s in-app purchase system. This comes after the company has been heavily criticized for how easy it is to make purchases, especially for children. In December, we reported on growing concerns parents had with the free Smurfs’ Village game for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. Children using the app are purchasing virtual $99 barrels of Smurfberries. Many parents are unaware of these purchases until receiving their iTunes bill. Smurfs' Village is created by Capcom Interactive, Inc. In a letter FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz wrote to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), he stated:
We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases. Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications.According to The Washington Post, an FTC spokeswoman acknowledged the letter but declined to comment further. Apple’s current iTunes protocol is that once an account password is entered, all successive downloads, paid or free, do not require the password to be re-entered for 15 minutes. The company indicated earlier this month that they might cut the time between password re-entries to five minutes. So far, however, this change has not been implemented. Each time this issue is discussed at AppAdvice, we receive a large number of comments. While many believe Apple has made it too easy for children to make in-app purchases, others believe it is the parents’ responsibility. What do you think? Should the FTC investigate Apple over this issue? Leave your comments below.
Beeline Interactive, Inc.