Apple makes a second concession to developers

Staying one step ahead of legislators determined to curb Apple's power over its own platform.

From Tim Higgins' “Apple to Allow Media Apps to Link to Own Websites for Payment Options" in Thursday's Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. said it would allow media apps to create in-app links to sign-up pages on those companies’ websites, allowing the likes of Spotify Technology and Netflix Inc. to bypass the iPhone maker’s cut of subscriptions.

Spotify and other technology companies for years have said Apple’s restrictions were unfair and anticompetitive. The Cupertino, Calif., company previously prohibited Spotify and others from directing their users to sign-up options outside the App Store.

Apple revealed the change Wednesday, saying it was among adjustments made to close an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission and will apply globally to so-called reader apps available through Apple’s App Store...

Although the latest changes wouldn’t apply to Epic’s case, they represent the latest in a string of actions that have in recent days begun chipping away at rules long considered set in stone for the App Store. While critics have painted the rules as tactics Apple uses to wield power and control—accusations the company disputes—the changes don’t get at the heart of where Apple makes its money, such as games like Fortnite.

My take: There are doors to the walled garden that Apple can open without destroying it, and it seems to be opening them one door at a time.

See also: Apple lifts the gag order


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    it seems to be opening them one door at a time.

    And not until Apple has to.

    How many (%) of App Store/gamers are going to change their purchasing habits (sense of security?) to buy direct from the developer? My guess is not many, most likely not a material amount.

    You can bet money on the fact that developers will [contractually] not be allowed to make offers on their payment system that are lower than on Apple’s payment system. So where is the consumer benefit to buying direct from the developer? I don’t see any.

    September 2, 2021
  2. Greg Lippert said:
    Even if they could offer a lower price, what’s the point for the little guys (it makes sense for big cross-platform companies like Spotify and Netflix)? Any processing service will require capital to build and maintain plus you will not get around credit card fees which is part of Apple’s 30% cut.

    And wait til their is a data breach on one of those alternative payment systems.

    September 2, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      This seems fair.

      Unlike Gaming Apps, most Media Apps don’t use the richness of iOS and its APIs so extensively.

      Gaming Apps inherently need iOS. They cannot give the same experience as a Web App.

      This moves also narrows the legal and regulator monopoly (should be duopoly) thesis.

      As others, above, point out, this move has minor impact on one class of Apps. The net impact on services revenue, let alone Apple net revenue is trivial.

      September 2, 2021
  3. Roger Schutte said:
    This is a big change and will do a lot to neutralize Spotify’s complaints and proposed government regulations.

    September 2, 2021
  4. Rodney Avilla said:
    As Apple is forced to give more and more concessions, it will eventually lead to the end of a free ride in the app store. If Apple is unable to make money from people spending money via apps, then Apple will have to make money via the app getting into the app store. There is no reason for Apple to provide all the services it does to developers, for free, when there is no financial benefit in the end for Apple. For developers to expect Apple to give them a free ride thru the app store and all the benefits therein, when they will be making millions, tens of millions, and even hundreds of millions from the app.

    September 2, 2021
    • Daniel Epstein said:
      Rodney has a good point! Apple has said they will figure out a way to be reimbursed and make money on what they do to maintain the App Store. They are a business after all. If the rules are being changed by outside forces then Apple can license their IP for developers differently than now. The funny thing is if Apple has to change the rules for its App store it may eventually force the other stores and developers to follow similar rules which may limit their own growth opportunities. Of course Apple can probably afford making a smaller profit on this product as they have other profitable revenue sources. If there is no price cut benefit for the consumers after this then we will see what was really going on with these issues.

      September 2, 2021
      • Bart Yee said:
        Yes, supposedly in exchange for allowing non-Apple payment systems and diverting Apple’s cut to the App maker, users enrich the App maker. What does the user get out of this? Cheaper prices in in-app purchases, discounts, exclusive levels, tools, or perks? Or the chance to lock in a subscription service?

        Where will the regulators monitor and ensure the user / consumer benefits somehow?

        Because, as usual, it’s always about the money, and everything else is just lip service.

        September 3, 2021

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