Airbnb and ClassPass are the two latest companies to clash with Apple over the tech giant’s demands for a percentage of in-app sales.
According to the The New York Times, the two companies — reeling from the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses — are upset that Apple demands a 30% cut of sales for their sale of online experiences.
ClassPass built its business selling fitness classes in gyms. Airbnb began moving into this area in 2016 by offering Experiences. These allow individuals (and Airbnb) to earn money by doing something like hosting a cooking class. During COVID-19, both companies pivoted to focus on online classes, setting up the clash with Cupertino over fees.
Apple’s demands for 30%
Both companies have now reportedly received requests from Apple for a 30% cut of sales of virtual classes. According to the Times: “Because the classes [ClassPass] sold on its iPhone app were now virtual, Apple said it was entitled to 30 percent of the sales, up from no fee previously, according to a person close to ClassPass who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting Apple. The iPhone maker said it was merely enforcing a decade-old rule.”
It’s a complex issue — and it comes at a tough time for all involved. Airbnb and ClassPass both took big revenue hits due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Apple wants a cut of digital products sold through the Airbnb and ClassPass apps, in accordance with existing policies.
Adding to the complexity for Apple is its forthcoming antitrust hearing, set to take place Wednesday. A growing number of businesses, from heavy hitters like Spotify to much smaller developers, complain about Apple’s policy of charging a 30% cut for services sold via the App Store. Apple, for its part, takes issue with developers who use its infrastructure without paying what the company considers a rightful fee for maintaining the app ecosystem.