As Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are A-Changin.” First spotted by 9to5Google
, iPhone and iPad users who want to subscribe to Netflix from the video streamer’s App Store app are now directed by Netflix to a third-party website. From the site, iOS and iPadOS users can sign up for service from Netflix. This is in line with Apple’s recent decision to allow so-called “reader apps” (apps that deliver digital content) to link to their own third-party websites to help subscribers sign up and manage their accounts. .
Netflix link in App Store allows video streamer to avoid the dreaded Apple Tax
Apple announced last September that it would allow reader apps to include a single in-app link to their own websites. If you tap the “Subscribe” button in the Netflix app, a message will appear that reads, “You are about to leave the app and go to an external website.” The app also points out that any transaction is not Apple’s responsibility and that all subscription management should be handled through the Netflix platform.
Netflix escapes the Apple Tax
More specifically, reader apps are those that provide content that has been previously purchased or content that is available through an app that users pay for on a recurring basis, such as music, video, digital magazines, newspapers, books, and audio.
The message also states that “Any accounts or purchases made outside of this app are controlled by the developer ‘Netflix’. Your App Store account, saved payment methods and related features, such as subscription management and refund requests, are not available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of any transactions made with this developer.”
Proceeding with the process will take you to a Netflix website from which you can subscribe to the service without bypassing Apple’s in-app payment platform. As a result, Netflix doesn’t have to give Apple the 30% off transaction price for initial subscriptions and as much as 15% for recurring subscriptions made after one year.
The so-called Apple Tax has been a controversial lightning rod for politicians, developers and others. Companies like Spotify and Netflix prevented subscribers from signing up for certain subscriptions directly from the App Store so they wouldn’t have to pay Apple. And nearly two years ago, Apple kicked Epic and its popular Fortnite game from the App Store after Epic offered game players a link to its own in-app payment platform.
Lawsuits, lawmakers and developers have all lent a hand in enforcing Apple’s massive change to Apple’s App Store
Without having to pay Apple its discount, Epic offered currency to Fortnite players at a lower price. This led to an epic lawsuit
(sorry), which resulted in a ruling by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who wrote: “The Court concludes that Apple’s anti-steering provisions conceal critical information from consumers and illegally stifle consumer choice. Coupled with the incipient antitrust violations of Apple, these anti-steering provisions are anti-competitive and a nationwide remedy to lift those provisions is warranted.”
Rogers did say that Apple was not a monopolist and that there was nothing illegal about the success of the App Store. She did say that Apple should allow developers to redirect users to developers’ own websites to manage their subscriptions. Other countries are going after the Apple Tax and developers in South Korea can promote alternative payment methods on the App Store, though Apple will still hit developers for 26% of the transaction value.
All in all, pressure from lawsuits, developers, lawmakers and the media has created the first cracks in Apple’s in-app payment platform, which includes the Apple Tax. Apple still has a set of rules that reader app developers must follow. The link published in the app must not contain pricing information, and each developer must file a “right” to get permission from Apple to include a link in their app.