Apple tax forces Facebook to launch new tool only on Android


Instant Articles
Facebook's subscriptions are coming to Android but not iOS.
Photo: Facebook

Apple’s 30% tax on in-app purchases could cause iPhone and iPad users to miss out on the next big news feature from Facebook.

In an effort to help make publishers more money, Facebook plans to launch a tool that helps websites sell subscriptions. All of the sales transactions will be done on the publishers’ websites, but Apple won’t approve the app unless it gets a cut.

Facebook says all of the profits from the subscription tool will go directly to the creators of content. The Facebook subscription system will have two options for sites. One will allow users to read 10 free articles before being asked to buy a subscription. The other option will allow publishers to put a paywall around individual articles.

Apple and Facebook have been discussing their impasse for months, according to a report from Recode. The problem comes from Apple’s policy to take a 30% cut on all “in-app” subscriptions. Even though the sale will be conducted on publishers’ websites, Apple still considers it an in-app purchase because the subscription originated through the iOS app.

In a blog post discussing the new feature, Facebook says that it’s optimistic that it will launch a test on all mobile platforms soon.

“We know subscriptions are an important business model for many in the news industry, that’s why we’ve been working hand-in-hand with publishers to create a product that will drive real value for them,” the company’s news team said.

While Facebook and Apple work out their differences, an Android version of the subscription tool will be rolled out in the next few weeks. Publishers such as Hearst, Tronc and the Washington Post are already on board for the Instant Articles feature.


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