Both Apple and Amazon pride themselves in technology that “just works.” One thing that hasn’t previously “just worked,” however, was the cumbersome way purchases had to take place on the Amazon-owned Audible audiobook service.
While people who listen to their audiobooks on iPhone have to use the iOS app, and this app allowed them to search the catalog for other titles, there was no way to actually buy a new book via the app. Instead, users had to go to Audible.com to buy the books they wanted, before switching back to the app to listen to them.
Making payments more seamless
The reason? Not doing this would mean Amazon would be charged commission by Apple for purchase of digital goods using an in-app purchase. As a result, Amazon opted to make things less convenient for users — and to save money. This inability to buy audiobooks even counted when users were spending credits, which rack up as part of a recurring subscription payment.
Things have now changed — at least, as far as credits go. While you seemingly still can’t buy individual titles without a credit (meaning a subscription), Audible now lets customers spend their credits in-app. It’s a neat change that improves the user experience for any Audible users out there. Audible publicizes the new feature in a banner ad on its website.
Why was the change made?
There’s no word on why Audible made the change. Purely speculating, there’s an argument that could be made that users are not directly spending money when they spend credits in the app. That’s because the credit itself is what is being paid for — with this transaction taking place outside the App Store — and that credit is then used to exchange for another product. It’s like swapping money for a token and then that token for another token.
Another possibility is that Apple is loosening its tight control on the App Store in-app payments as its control of the App Store continues to be scrutinized. This exact subject is already the topic of an antitrust investigation into Apple in Europe.
Yet another option is that this relates to Apple’s relationship with Amazon, and is an exceptional circumstance. This has happened before. Back in 2016, Amazon and Apple came to an agreement whereby Apple would get only a 15% revenue cut from day one for customers who signed up through the app. Apple normally gets a 30% cut for the first year of an app’s subscription. It then claims a 15% commission for subsequent years. It’s possible that Apple and Amazon have come to a deal that serves as a compromise.
It could, of course, be that there is some other reason for the change that is none of the above. Whatever the reason, however, it’s something that’s good for customers.
Are you an Audible user? What do you think is the reason for the changes made? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
You can download the Audible app from the App Store. An Audible subscription offering 1 credit per month costs $14.95 monthly.