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Apple allows subscription video companies to skip App Store fee: Report

Apple is allowing Amazon Prime Video and Canal+ to skip the 30% fee on in-app transactions by letting those companies bill users with non-Apple payment methods, Bloomberg reported. This is a potentially significant concession. Apple’s iTunes rents and sells movies, like Amazon Prime Video does in some markets outside India. Apple has received pushback for continuing to charge a 30% fee on digital transactions many years after it was first introduced.

Spotify had filed an antitrust complaint in the EU in March 2019, saying it’s unfair that Apple Music doesn’t have to pay a similar fee, and that Apple doesn’t let Spotify link users out of the app to purchase a subscription, or even advertise deals to users. That complaint is now under investigation, and as late as November 2019, the European Commission had said that it wouldn’t comment on the progress. The commission has been a pain point for many developers — it’s still impossible to sell subscriptions on an iOS app without coughing up the money. Google charges the same fee for subscriptions on the Play Store, but doesn’t restrict developers from letting users pay with non-Play Store payment methods.

Until recently, Spotify had a message on the iOS version of the app saying “We know it’s not ideal” that users couldn’t purchase a premium subscription within the app. Netflix does the same thing, saying “We know it’s a hassle” that subscriptions must be completed elsewhere. Neither service rents or sells individual pieces of music or video, so they’re both ineligible for the fee waiver. But the outcome of Spotify’s complaint in the EU may determine how long Apple can keep charging developers a steep fee from subscriptions.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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