Under pressure from the authorities, Apple finally applies changes to the App Store

Apps like Netflix and Spotify are now allowed to bypass the App Store payment system. In the Netherlands, where Apple was sentenced, dating apps can also offer an alternative payment engine.

In September 2021, Apple announced its intention to modify certain rules on the App Store. Six months later, the Californian brand is finally implementing these changes. “Reader apps”, as it calls them (i.e. applications that allow users to view content from a paid service), are now authorized to redirect their users to their website so that they can make him subscribe. In the past, they did not have the right to refuse this possibility, only subscriptions with an Apple account were authorized.

Netflix and Spotify, big winners of this change

These new rules do not make Epic Games happy, at the origin of a huge lawsuit against Apple (he was tired of sharing 30% of the revenue from fortnite with the Californian brand), but they were to prosper giants like Netflix and Spotify which now have the possibility of offering subscriptions in their applications without going through Apple.

This will give them two advantages:

  1. They control subscriptions (any promotions, sponsorships, contact details, complaints, terminations, etc.).
  2. They no longer have to share 30% (or 15% for small developers) of their revenue with Apple. Many earn paying more for subscription through the App Store, not to earn less.

To access this function, the developers concerned must fill out a form on the Apple site. If their request is accepted, they will have to meet specific conditions before redirecting their users to their sites. Apple requires for example the display of a text indicating that Apple is not responsible for the transaction, that no refund can be offered by Apple, that the termination cannot be done from an Apple device and that Apple cannot guarantee that the transaction is secure. If the user accepts these conditions despite their dissuasive nature, then he can subscribe outside the App Store.

In addition to Netflix and Spotify, many popular apps belong to the “player” category. We are thinking in particular of all their competitors (Amazon Prime, Disney+, myCANAL, Deezer, etc.) but also of Cafeyn or Kindle. Most of these applications do not allow subscription from an iPhone and iPad, which complicates the user experience (Netflix even apologizes to its customers, telling them that it had nothing to do with it). This new policy should improve the App Store.

The pressure from the authorities works

Several years, Apple and Google are designated by many anticompetitive authorities. It is thanks to Japan that Apple initiated the changes mentioned above, while other courts could have other more or less significant impacts in the future. The DMA, a new European anti-GAFAM law, wants to impose on Apple the installation of applications outside the App Store. A possibility that worries the brand, which respects the confidentiality of data forward.

At the end of 2021, the Netherlands asked Apple to allow payments in dating apps without going through the App Store engine. Sentenced to a fine of 50 million euros for its delay, Apple is finally implementing changes. The brand announces that in the Netherlands, and only in the Netherlands, app developers like Tinder or Bumble can offer a payment form directly in their apps. A change that could calm the Dutch authorities, who until then refuted Apple’s proposals. Be careful, there is nevertheless a gray area in all this, Apple continued to take a commission on payments, even if they did not go through its engine. A 27% commission has been quoted in the past, a small reduction of 3% compared to the integrated system. We would not be surprised to see the Netherlands continue to complain.

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