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Spotify has already turned off the ability for new accounts to pay to upgrade to a premium account inside their iOS app last year.

You pay for your account on Spotify's own web site, which bypasses Apple getting any cut at all.

https://support.spotify.com/us/account_payment_help/subscrip...

Netflix has done the same thing.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8471988/spotify-...

In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.




> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

This is especially damaging to small companies. Most people have heard of Spotify, Netflix, Pandora, etc. So it's somewhat natural for them (if not a bit akward) to go to the website if they can't get premium in the app.

But for small companies that connection isn't immediately obvious. In my company for instance, we aren't allowed to put ANY reference to our website in the app (as it relates to purchasing premium). As a result when a user signs up, my only option is IAP. I cannot just assume they will naturally go to the website.


Most(every?) app that I’ve signed up for requires an email address. Some apps then send a verification or welcome email. If you mention and link to paid subscription upgrades in that email, will Apple pull your app?


As Spotify points out, and I've seen first hand, Apple prohibits you from allowing users to create accounts or enter contact information if your service has a paid option and you don't use apple's IAP.

So you couldn't even get to the point where you can send an email without first falling in line with IAP.

And according to my understanding of the Spotify timeline, and I haven't see this because I haven't published to the platform in a while, Apple now prohibits you from targeting your iOS users with upgrade communications (even if they didn't sign up via iOS, which they didn't since that's prohibited).


Will people actually read the email? Will they remember it at the time they actually want to upgrade their account?

(An "email me a payment link" button would almost certainly get rejected by Apple)


“We’ve just sent a verification code to the email you provided, please type the 4 digit code here:_ _ _ _”

It could even be 2 digits (the same 2 digits for everyone), you’re just looking to get their eyes on the email letting them know additional paid subscriptions are available on your website.


Let's assume you purposefully crafted the email or app to break the code autofill built into iOS.

I think you'd end up confusing users. Most people will go to their email expecting to see a verification code in big bold type. If you make the code less obvious, they'll get frustrated ("I came here to get a code, why am I now doing something else?") It's awful UX at a particularly business-critical moment.

And this is all assuming Apple doesn't see through your ploy and just reject the app.


It's not just those two, it's standard practice: Audible, Google Play video, Amazon video, Amazon music, Playstation Video, Vimeo, Sky Store video, and YouTube Premium/Google Music (same subscription with different marketing).

Deezer music went another route: you can pay for your subscription through an iOS device, but you'll pay a higher price. [0] I'm surprised Apple permit this.

All this strikes me as a clear indication that Apple is asking for too high a cut.

I've never been tempted to use a mobile app to shop on, say, Amazon, but Apple are clearly ok with that experience being far better on Android than on iPhone.

> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

Interesting.

The exact words used by the Audible app for iPhone: This app does not support purchasing content. Instead, add to your wishlist.

[0] https://support.deezer.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360000633989


> Deezer music went another route: you can pay for your subscription through an iOS device, but you'll pay a higher price. [0] I'm surprised Apple permit this.

This is what Spotify used to do (charging $13 instead of the normal $10 to give apple their cut), but they stopped when apple started making apple music available at $10 (since they didn't need to pay their own tax)


That's the sort of behavior that gets your company broken up. Apple's management team doesn't seem to own a single history book between them.


How so? Isn't the tipping point of an antitrust suit a lack of competition and/or a monopolized position? Apple doesn't have that. They can do whatever they want in the confines of their own store.


They have close to 50% of the market in the US and I don't think a strict majority is required to be judged a monopoly.

You simply can't ignore iOS if you want to have a successful smartphone app business. That fact alone is enough in my opinion to consider Apple a monopoly and to take action to force them to play fair on their own platform.


I think an obvious comparison could be drawn with the movie industry of the 1940s, when the studios were forced to divest their ownership of the actual theaters their movies were shown in.

Abusing market dominance in one sector in order to shut out or outcompete other providers in another sector is the classic justification for antitrust action.


> The exact words used by the Audible app for iPhone: This app does not support purchasing content. Instead, add to your wishlist.

I honestly never really thought about why this is - I simply just hated Audible for it, and thought it was the most annoying part of their app.

However, it's odd - how come the Amazon app is allowed to get away with its own purchasing system?


I believe there's an exception for physical goods, so Amazon is ok but not Kindle, audible etc.


You're right, and I was mistaken -- the Amazon app for iPhone lets you checkout.

I believe jordanthoms's explanation is correct.


>In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

Why on earth is Apple allowed to do that? I get that it is their marketplace and their rules, but they are directly hurting competition and consumers this way. There's simply no real argument to prohibit developers like this. Seems like something the EU should combat against.


That depends on whether you prioritize the ability for developers to profit or the security of customers making the purchase. Apple is guaranteeing its users that purchases made within apps are secure and that only Apple has access to their payment info. In the alternate scenario, customers have no way of verifying the security or veracity of some random app developer collecting their payment info.


I feel for Spotify and other companies on the 30% tax but I also love knowing that any purchase by my family or myself is protected, private and easily refunded if there's a mistake. There are already a lot of apps preying on kids but it would be at another level without the in-house payment system.

I think something like 30% on the first purchase and then 5-6% for any recurring purchases would make more sense. I know it changes to 15% after a year but that's still ridiculous IMO.

Maybe there's an App Association that challenges all of these stores on their rather high recurring fees.


This is a ridiculous stance. Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments. There are other solutions to feel secure about paying online or via an app. For instance, if the app asks you for payment, you could be first shown its rating in the store, if it's low. There could be even a separate rating judging the payment security of the app, if security is what Apple is after. You're allowing Apple to rip you off by 30% on all app transactions, it's as simple as that. (Not to mention the cost of locking yourself in their platform and hardware.)


> Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments.

I'm not particularly scared of paying for things online. I'm scared of almost anyone else in my extended family doing so, though. If you think that concern's "ridiculous" you haven't watched them use the Web. And lots of them—especially the older ones—have (rightly!) never entirely gotten over fear of buying things online. Some(!) of them do buy things online, but reluctantly, with great deliberation. In an app on an Apple device? Concerns gone. Even for me, that little background stress of being on alert for shenanigans quiets down when I'm in the Apple ecosystem. Far lower (though non-zero—there's a reason I do almost no iOS gaming) permitted rates of douchebaggery is one of the things keeping me on iOS, and the one-source-of-payments is a vital part of that.

[EDIT] there are further benefits to users and developers alike, I should add, when the UI for a purchase is the same in every app. It's worth 30% to "defect" from that, so worth it on the individual level, but if it's permitted at all then the game's up and everyone loses.


> Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments.

Strawman. That's not at all what the parent said.

> For instance, if the app asks you for payment, you could be first shown its rating in the store, if it's low. There could be even a separate rating judging the payment security of the app, if security is what Apple is after.

You think people should be shown a payment security score so they can judge whether they want to make an in-app purchase? You must be joking. I don't think you understand what Apple is after if that's your suggestion.

> You're allowing Apple to rip you off by 30% on all app transactions, it's as simple as that.

Your entire comment reeks of irrational anti Apple bias. It's as simple as that.


Yeah that’s really a lot simpler than just using my finger.

This is why geeks make horrible product people.

And ratings have never been faked....


Yeah... no. Your stance is ridiculous. People have already gamed sites like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Play with fake reviews. The App Store also probably is flooded with tons of fake reviews. I'd rather trust my payment information to a company that has already demonstrated that they're incredibly thoughtful with my security regarding payments rather than trusting some giant unknown and just hoping for the best.


> Maybe there's an App Association that challenges all of these stores on their rather high recurring fees.

I think it's perfectly reasonable for governments to update their terms and agreements.


I would rather their focus was on citizens rights first but there's some merit to that.


> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

The counter point is, if Apple allowed this, then every single App would use that method. Most people would not realize or care that they bought the XYZ in a web view vs through the AppStore payment system. Even apps that are currently paid only would switch to a "free" app with a "pay here" in-app purchase.

At this point the AppStore no longer can bring in any money for Apple except indirectly via encouraging iPhone sales.

Maybe Apple could charge the publisher for each app download or something instead to keep making money but I doubt that would be very popular.


There is still a non-zero cost to implementing a checkout page, as well as associated vendor fees etc. In a fair market the fees for Apple checkout would be along the same lines as Stripe, PayPal etc., but they are using their position as the device and OS vendor to charge 10x as much and giving developers no other option.


I disagree they should be the same. Credit card fraud risk is much higher on the internet than in person for instance. Apple through iOS and the App Store I would guess, also has a significant edge in detecting and stopping fraud through name, location, etc. While 15/30% might be too high, it should be higher than a simple payment processor as the transaction is also safer for the merchant.


Amazon's Kindle app has done the same as well.




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