App Store changes reduce Apple Tax under special circumstances

JC Torres - Aug 26, 2021, 7:47pm CDT
App Store changes reduce Apple Tax under special circumstances

There are multiple aspects to the ongoing lawsuits against Apple’s and Google’s alleged monopolies over their respective app stores, but one of the biggest points has always been the “industry standard” 30% cut that these companies take. Epic Games’ epic crusade against that practice has thankfully generated some changes, but those are the exception rather than the rule. Apple is once again making more exceptions with some changes to its App Store policies that it says will appease developers and settle at least one lawsuit.

Back in 2019, Apple was hit with a class-action lawsuit over its anticompetitive behavior in running the App Store, taking particular exception to its 30% commission while forcing developers to price their apps or in-app purchases ending in 99 cents. As a Big Tech company, Apple is no stranger to lawsuits, but this legal problem wasn’t one that it could easily ignore. Now it says that it has gotten the agreement of US developers over some changes that will resolve the case, pending court approval.

One of the biggest changes ironically doesn’t exactly benefit most of those US app developers. Near the end of its announcement, the company reveals a new News Partner Program that will provide some incentive for news organizations to not only publish their apps on the App Store but also publish their news on Apple News. Those providing content on Apple News will be able to cut down the commission from 30% to 15%.

Apple is now changing its policy regarding developers that try to tell users that they have payment methods outside of the iOS app. They can now do so and not suffer Apple’s wrath, provided they only advertise it through external communications like email. The company also promises to increase the price points developers can use from less than 100 to more than 500.

Apple reiterates some recent changes it made that will remain in effect. Reduced commissions from businesses earning less than $1 million annually will be maintained for at least three years. It also promises to improve the content on its App Review website to help developers appeal what they may perceive to be an unjust rejection of their app. Apple hopes that these changes will appease developers involved in the Camera et al v. Apple Inc. lawsuit, but that’s probably just the tip of the legal iceberg for the company.


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