Apple has relaxed some of its long-standing restrictions over the past week, which helped to make the App Store a huge moneymaker. Apple has required app developers for years to pay large commissions on both the sale of paid apps and subscriptions or digital items within their apps.
Apple faces significant pressure to expand the App Store. A federal judge is soon expected to return a verdict in an antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, that seeks to strike down much of Apple’s commission system. The South Korean legislature approved a law earlier this week that would allow developers not to pay the 15%-30% commissions they receive from Apple and Google.
Apple’s moves have not always been explained clearly to iPhone users, leaving them with many questions about what Apple is doing and how it will affect them.
So, WHAT IS APPLE DOING ACTUALLY?
Late Wednesday, Apple agreed to App Store changes starting next year to resolve an investigation by Japanese regulators. Apple will now allow Spotify, Netflix, and other apps that offer digital subscriptions to music and video, as well as magazines, newspapers and books, to add an in-app link for their sites so users can sign up without Apple’s payment system.
Apple made a smaller step last week in this direction when it allowed app developers to email users to discuss ways to bypass Apple when signing up to subscriptions. These efforts could have resulted in apps being removed from Apple’s stores. This change was made possible by a preliminary settlement in a lawsuit against Apple. Court approval is still required.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek applauded the Wednesday move as a “step in in the right direction” in a Thursday tweet. He regretted that Apple doesn’t grant the same freedoms to all apps, even those that create video games.
Ek tweeted, “Our goal, not one arbitrarily self-serving step at time, is to restore competition once for all.”
This will make apps more affordable for users.
Most likely not.
Subscription apps may be able to lower their prices in theory, but there is little evidence that they do. Netflix has, for example, been steadily increasing prices for reasons that are not related to Apple’s commissions. According to the video streaming service, price increases allow it to pay for new original programming.