Publishers want Apple to give them a better deal for App Store subs

News publishers want Apple to give them a better deal for App Store subscriptions


‘The New York Times’ kicked Apple News to the curb
New York Times and others are pushing back against App Store commissions.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Several major news outlets are throwing their hats into the ring with Epic Games and others in pushing back against Apple’s App Store commission.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a trade body that represents the New York Times, Washington Post, WSJ and other publishers has sent a letter to Tim Cook asking for better terms for digital subscriptions sold through the App Store.

“The terms of Apple’s unique marketplace greatly impact the ability to continue to invest in high-quality, trusted news and entertainment particularly in competition with other larger firms,” reads the letter, which is signed by the chief executive of trade body Digital Content Next.

The WSJ report notes that:

“App developers, including news publishers, pay Apple 30% of the revenue from first-time subscriptions made through iOS apps; that commission is reduced to 15% after the subscriber’s first year. Apple says the revenue split is similar to other app marketplaces and allows the company to cover the app store’s operating expenses.”

In the letter, the publishing trade body asks for the same deal Apple granted Amazon. Apple granted Amazon a reduced commission rate for customers signing up for Amazon Prime Video via the App Store. Unlike other apps, Amazon gets a 15% commission rate from day one.

Pushing back against App Store commissions

This is just the latest example of developers or, in this case, publishers pushing back against Apple’s commission. The issue has been rumbling for quite a while.

Things ramped up last week when Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store after it introduced a direct-payment system for in-app purchases. This violated the App Store guidelines. Epic immediately responded with a civil lawsuit accusing the App Store of being a monopoly. Epic has also reportedly contacted other developers who may have a beef with Apple.

Publishers have had their disagreements — or disappointment — with Apple before. Recently the New York Times stopped appearing in the Apple News app. The NYT reported on the move, saying it was because, “Apple had given it little in the way of direct relationships with readers and little control over the business.”