Apple seems to be easing its commission policy for streaming apps somewhat. The firm now renounces to levy 30% in some cases for the services it considers “premium”.
Until now, Apple’s policy for dematerialized purchases made within applications has been fairly simple: a 30% commission applies on all transactions, while for subscriptions, the rate is 30% the first year and by 15% in the following years. For streaming services, in particular, whose model is essentially based on subscriptions, this rent that Apple is granting itself has long been a bone of contention, especially since it is not possible to offer subscription to a subscription in an iOS application without having to use Apple’s services – and therefore without leaving 30% of revenues for the first year and 15% for the following years.
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Surprisingly enough, Apple has just confirmed that there are a few exceptions to its policy. Concretely, the firm indicates having “implemented a program for premium subscription video entertainment providers that offers a variety of benefits“, including permission to charge users by a method other than that usually imposed by Apple. The information, to be credited to Bloomberg, comes out when a big name in the sector, Amazon Prime Video, has just integrated this program and can therefore bypass the commission on certain purchases in its iOS application. The program, however, is said to be significantly older. Canal + would benefit from it since 2018, while Altice One (a service of the American branch of Altice) would have integrated it last February.
However, for subscriptions to a new subscription, the rules do not seem to have changed. Apple explains that as part of its program, “customers can buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method linked to their existing video subscription“. If this is the case, this program is for example of no interest to Netflix, which does not offer its programs individually, but only through a subscription. Note also the fact that the firm only talks about video, indicates that competitors of Apple Music, including the first line Spotify, are not affected by this relaxation.
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According to Apple, the services which are considered “premium” and which integrate the program are entitled to an optimized integration within the ecosystem, both from the hardware point of view (devices: iPhone, Apple TV …) and software ( Siri).
Recall that Apple’s practices in terms of commissions on the App Store have been the subject of several complaints to Brussels, an investigation for abuse of dominant position having finally been opened in spring 2019.