Apple will allow developers to email customers regarding In-App Purchases in order to avoid App Store fees

Apple is permitting developers to email customers offering alternative payment methods to avoid App Store fees on purchases.
3 min read
Apple Store

n what is a major App Store policy U-turn, Apple will allow app developers to contact customers directly to discuss alternative In App Purchase options so they are able to avoid App Store fees.

It used to be the case that Apple would not allow developers to contact customers in any form in order to encourage them to pay for purchases directly through their website or other means, but now developers are permitted to do as such.

These prohibitions, dubbed as Apple’s ‘anti-steering rules’, were the focus of CEO Tim Cook’s questioning by the Judge in the antitrust trial against Fortnite developers Epic Games earlier this year. The decision of that trial is expected later in the year. In addition, the European Commission brought attention to the rule after music streaming service Spotify broke the rule by emailing customers to subscribe through their website directly, in order to avoid the commission rate.

App developers want to contact customers so they will pay directly through them in order to avoid Apple’s App Store fees, which currently range between 15% and 30% of gross sales.

Apple said in a statement:

“To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple is also clarifying that developers can use communications, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app”

“As always, developers will not pay Apple a commission on any purchases taking place outside of their app or the App Store. Users must consent to the communication and have the right to opt out.”

The major policy change comes after a lawsuit was settled. The developers alleged that Apple had ‘monopolised’ apps for iOS, and so they were able to charge extortionate App Store fees for In App Purchases with little resistance from competitors.

The lawsuit agreement also included four other points:

  • Apple will give developers complete freedom to select prices for in app purchases. Previously, the charge had to be a rounded dollar price, such as $0.99.
  • For companies with less than $1 million in revenue, the commission rate is frozen at 15% for a minimum of three years.
  • App developers will be able to appeal App Store decisions, and can find further information on the appeals process online.
  • An annual report will be published by Apple detailing statistics on app rejections, search queries and other relevant information.

On an unrelated note, Apple revealed on August 26 that it will reduce App Store fees for Apple News publishers, in a bid to gain more content on that service.

This is a major victory for app developers, as it cuts out Apple’s commission from their gross sales. This policy change may also have implications on the Apple vs. Epic Games ruling, which will be decided later into the year.

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