Apple is further loosing its App Store restrictions, allowing “reader” apps to have in-app links to a website for alternative payment methods.
Apple has traditionally maintained an iron grip on the App Store, forcing developers to use its payment system, netting it 30% of all transactions. The company, along with Google, is facing increased pressure over the approach and is slowing making changes.
Last week, Apple settled a class action lawsuit with developers, allowing them to use external means — such as email — to inform customers of alternative payment methods. Developers could not, however, use any in-app notification. Developers and critics accused Apple of not doing enough, and said the concession was too little, too late.
Apple is now making another concession as part of an effort to head off an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). The company will now allow “reader” apps — Netflix, Spotify and the like — to include an in-app notification, allowing users to go to their websites to sign up. This would have the effect of cutting Apple out of their 30% commission on any subscriptions.
“Trust on the App Store is everything to us. The focus of the App Store is always to create a safe and secure experience for users, while helping them find and use great apps on the devices they love,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow who oversees the App Store. “We have great respect for the Japan Fair Trade Commission and appreciate the work we’ve done together, which will help developers of reader apps make it easier for users to set up and manage their apps and services, while protecting their privacy and maintaining their trust.”
The move is being welcomed as a more substantive step than the previous one, although it still is a relatively minor step. Many individuals already sign up for Netflix, and similar services, outside of the app, and simply use the app to access their existing subscription. As a result, this change will likely have little real impact on Apple.
Even so, small progress is still progress.