By: Owen Williams (One Zero Medium)
Just days before Apple’s annual developer event, the European Union hit the company with a bombshell: It’s beginning an antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store rules. Spurred on by Spotify, which has publicly called for scrutiny of Apple’s anti-competitive practices, the investigation will focus on whether the App Store’s payment rules are fair.
For years, developers big and small have expressed concerns about Apple’s rules around in-app purchases and subscriptions. While developers can distribute their apps on the App Store for free, Apple requires that in-app purchases and subscriptions use its own billing tools, which demand a 30% cut of revenue.
Apple’s rules alsoforbid developers from sending their users to a website to pay instead, which would allow companies to use their existing payment mechanisms and dodge the fee. Services like Amazon’s Kindle and Netflix don’t use Apple’s payment services, so they must leave it up to users to figure out what to do to get access — they aren’t allowed to mention the requirement to manually subscribe outside of the app…