Dutch tweak: Apple paid 50M Euros in fines before making small changes

From Richard Lawler and Jon Porter 's "Apple will allow Dutch dating apps to use other payment options within existing apps" posted Wednesday on The Verge:

To help bring an end to wrangling with Dutch regulators that stretched over the last several months, today, Apple published a new version of its App Store rules that allow local dating apps to take payments through third-party processors. Until now, its proposals to comply with a December ruling mandating the change had not satisfied the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) and earned Apple 50 million euros worth of fines.

Apple previously announced that it would allow dating apps to use alternative payment systems, but it imposed various conditions on how they could do so. Developers would have to submit a separate app binary for the Dutch App Store, and would have to choose between using its in-app payment system or a third-party version, rather than being able to offer both in the same app. And most notably, it said it intended to collect a 27 percent commission on payments made using alternative payment systems.

Now Apple is giving up on its insistence on a separate binary for apps that see outside payment systems. According to Apple, “This change means that developers may include either entitlement in their existing dating app, but still must limit its use to the app in the Netherlands storefront and on devices running iOS or iPadOS.” It also laid out more specifics on how to evaluate non-Apple payment system providers and examples for the pages apps need to present to customers to inform them they’re about to interact with a non-Apple payment service.

My take: I expect Apple ran this up the Dutch flagpole before it made the offer. We'll find out soon enough if the ACM is satisfied.

Click here for the new App Store rules

8 Comments

  1. Are regulators in every nation going to put their incompetence on full display or is this a Dutch thing? Technology experts keep getting pushed aside amid misguided quests to score political points or maybe simply shake down the firm with the deepest pockets. The disconnect leading to €45mil in fines occurred in Amsterdam or The Hague, not Cupertino. The Netherlands still can’t decide which city is their capital.

    4
    March 31, 2022
  2. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Apple should only be required to pay $25 million. Given that this is the Netherlands, isn’t it appropriate to “Go Dutch Treat?”

    3
    March 31, 2022
  3. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Here we go kids. Nothing like intentionally growing weeds in a beautiful garden.

    Isn’t it interesting how a company famed for making things enjoyingly simple can design-in wonderful complexity. Bad waste of resources though, eh?

    When there are more attorneys in the design studio than designer/artists, you know something’s amiss.

    3
    March 31, 2022
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Per the Verge article, Apple still charges the App developers 27%.

    Developers will have to pay transaction fees to credit card processors. They get nothing from this deal. Consumers get nothing. Fraudsters may get consumer financial data.

    4
    March 31, 2022
  5. Fred Stein said:
    Dear ACM,

    How to think about Apple’s 30% (or 15% for smaller developers) fee:

    3% for 3rd party transaction processors which nearly all merchants, brick or on-line, pay.
    5% curation for consumer protection
    5% curation for app developer protection against copy cats
    2% profit in the case of small developers
    17% profit for developers generating over $1M in consumer charges.
    No charges or profit for non iOS revenue-generating Apps.

    2
    March 31, 2022
  6. Daniel Epstein said:
    For whatever it is worth the Dutch regulators are forcing Apple to comply with what they want and the fines were contingent on the solution being operational as well. So Apple would propose something and the regulators could keep fining them regardless of the fairness or complications but on the basis it wasn’t already operational. They did not seem to raise the price cut conversation in public but just the technical hurdles Apple was creating. Now without the technical hurdles if the developers still don’t find Apple’s solution acceptable the Dutch regulator could try and keep fining Apple based on the operational part of the judgment. So if we are in a “leading to horse to water but can’t make them drink” situation the Dutch seem to think that is Apple’s problem for now. How far will the regulator’s push it if they think the developer’s true intentions become the delay? We will see. Do they think they can dictate the price of Apple’s services to the developers in this situation if the developers don’t want to pay much of anything? Being the middleman in a negotiation like this may not be very flattering for the Dutch by the end. No good deed goes unpunished.

    3
    March 31, 2022
  7. Bart Yee said:
    “My take: I expect Apple ran this up the Dutch flagpole before it made the offer. We’ll find out soon enough if the ACM is satisfied.”

    Phil, don’t hold your breath. The ACM won’t be satisfied unless Epic, Coalition for (un)Fairness is satisfied, and that won’t be for a long time.

    IMO, we all know they would aspire to become an Apple if they could.

    4
    March 31, 2022
  8. Jerry Doyle said:
    Merrian-Webster’s defInition of (be) careful what you wish for…..—used to tell people to think before they say that they want something and to suggest that they may not actually want it.

    Hummmmmmm…..

    0
    March 31, 2022

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