Apple continues to move away from its controversial 30 percent commission for in-app purchases in iPhone apps. As part of the “News Partner Program” announced on Thursday, Apple wants to withhold only 15 percent of the subscription price of magazines and newspapers from the start – instead of the previous 30 percent in the first subscription year.
Presence in Apple News required
In return, publishers and media companies must have a “robust” presence in Apple’s “News” app and publish all content there in the “Apple News Format”. For publishers outside the USA, Great Britain, Canada and Australia – only there is Apple News available there so far – the provision of an RSS feed is required.
Participation in Apple’s program is only possible for news apps with “own, professionally created news content”. Media companies also have to integrate Apple’s in-app purchase interface and use it to sell their subscriptions – this is the only way Apple can withhold a commission for new subscriptions made on iPhones and iPads. The News Partner Program will also promote media literacy and independent journalism, explains Apple in a press release.
The News Partner Program is reminiscent of Apple’s special deal for video partners: the group has also halved its commission for them if they integrate into Apple’s TV ecosystem. The video partners are even allowed to invoice content via their own payment interface, otherwise this is strictly forbidden in the App Store. This does not seem intended for publishers.
App store criticism from media companies
Large US media groups had sharply criticized Apple last year: With “anti-competitive practices” in the App Store, the iPhone company is pushing news offers into a “gloomy advertising world”. A large industry association that, among other things New York Times and Wall Street Journal represents, had joined the organization “Coalition for App Fairness” founded by Epic Games and other app store critics at the end of 2020, which is committed to a comprehensive app store reform.
With the lure of the halved commission, Apple should also try to ease the growing pressure on the app store model. In several regions, including the USA and Europe, there are efforts by regulators to break open the App Store, so that Apple would also have to allow third-party app stores and free app distribution on iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s requirement to only use the in-house payment interface in apps could be prohibited by law in the first countries: In South Korea, a correspondingly amended version of the law for telecommunications transactions should be submitted to the national assembly for voting on Wednesday. The meeting was postponed indefinitely at short notice.