Apple Offers Concession In Easing App Store Rules For Netflix & Co

Apple will let some apps like Netflix provide links to their websites for user payments, a small concession that would allow app developers to bypass the controversial 30% App Store fee the iPhone maker charges.

The concession was part of a settlement with Japan’s antitrust regulator, which said the change was enough for it to close a five-year investigation into Apple that focused on video and music apps but did not consider games.

The US tech giant, however, must still contend with a raft of other legal and regulatory challenges to rules it forces game makers to follow, including a closely watched antitrust lawsuit brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games.

The ban on providing separate links on App Store apps was lifted for so-called reader apps which provide content such as e-books, video and music that does not offer a free tier of service, instead requiring payment at sign-up.

Currently, apps like Netflix and Spotify skirt Apple’s commissions of around 15%-30% by forcing users to first sign up on their websites.

“Some of the biggest services in this ‘reader’ category are streamers like Netflix and Spotify which already have and rely on their own payment services,” PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore said.

“(The change) will allow smaller developers to manage a direct relationship with customers in order to manage their accounts and payment.”

The change is set to take effect early next year and will be applied globally, stated Apple, which will retain ultimate say over which apps qualify as reader apps.

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