Apple’s special deal for video apps: lower taxes, own means of payment

Apple has published new details on its “Video Partner Program”, which defuses two of the most controversial app store rules: Program participants only have to cede 15 percent of the estimated price as commission to Apple – instead of the usual 30 percent in the first year with a subscription Services. The video partners of the iPhone group are also allowed to invoice content via their own payment interface, so that no commission has to be paid to Apple for these purchases.

Such integration of your own payment interface is otherwise strictly prohibited in the App Store. The hidden introduction of a direct payment option recently cost the Fortnite maker Epic Games access to the iPhone: First the game was removed from the App Store, then the developer account of the Apple provider was closed. The companies are now deeply involved in a legal battle and are also making public mobilities against one another. Apple compared circumventing its own in-app payment interface to shoplifting.

The video partner program did not become publicly known until spring 2020, because Amazon Prime Video users could suddenly buy content using the means of payment stored on Amazon – instead of using their Apple account. At the time, the iPhone group spoke of only three app providers for whom there were special conditions. There are now over 130 video services that use the partner program, as Apple has now announced – it has been offering this since 2016, it is now said.

Participants include Apple’s list well-known providers such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, HBO Max, Joyn and Dazn. The special deal requires that video services on iOS and the Apple TV operating system tvOS are represented by an app, that they are fully integrated into Apple’s TV app and that they support other Apple technologies such as Siri, universal search and AirPlay. In addition, the video services must also integrate Apple’s In-App-Purchase (IAP) payment interface, so that new customers can take out a subscription directly in the app, from which Apple also earns 15 percent. Here, too, providers seem prohibited from referring to external options for taking out a subscription – for example with a link to their own website.

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Apple’s special deal for video services was already the subject of a cartel investigation by the US House of Representatives, in the context of which Apple CEO Tim Cook was questioned. You treat all developers equally, Cook emphasized, but had to grant the special deal a little later. US media corporations have thereupon also demanded better conditions for their apps: Apple is damaging “trustworthy news offers” with the “fees and anti-competitive practices” and is pushing publishers into a “gloomy advertising world,” argued an industry association in August.


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