As Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” First spotted by 9to5Google
, iPhone and iPad users wishing to subscribe to Netflix from the video streamer’s App Store app are now directed by Netflix to an external website. From the site, iOS and iPadOS users can sign up for Netflix’s service. This is in line with Apple’s recent decision to allow so-called “reader apps” (apps that provide digital content) to connect to their own external websites to help subscribers sign up. and manage their accounts.
Netflix link in App Store lets video streamer escape dreaded Apple tax
Apple announced last September that it would allow reading apps to include a single embedded link to their own websites. Pressing the “subscribe” button in the Netflix app displays a message that says “you are about to exit the app and go to an external website.” The app also points out that any transaction will not be Apple’s responsibility and that all subscription management must be handled through Netflix’s platform.
Specifically, reading apps are those that provide previously purchased content or content available from 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 will be managed by the developer ‘Netflix’. Your App Store account, stored payment methods, and related features, such as managing subscriptions and requests refunds, will not be available. Apple is not responsible for the privacy or security of any transactions with this developer.”
If you proceed with the process, you are redirected to a Netflix website from where you can subscribe to the service bypassing Apple’s in-app payment platform. As a result, Netflix does not have to give Apple the 30% reduction in the transaction price on initial subscriptions and up to 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 have blocked subscribers from purchasing certain subscriptions directly from the App Store so they don’t have to pay Apple. And nearly two years ago, Apple kicked Epic and its popular game Fortnite from the App Store after Epic offered players a link to its own in-app payment platform.
Lawsuits, lawmakers and developers have all helped force Apple’s huge App Store change
Without having to pay its share to Apple, Epic offered currency to Fortnite players at a lower price. It led to an epic trial
(sorry) which culminated in a decision by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers who wrote: “Court finds that Apple’s anti-steering provisions conceal critical information from consumers and unlawfully stifle consumer choice. coupled with Apple’s incipient antitrust violations, these anti-steering provisions are anti-competitive and a national remedy to eliminate these provisions is warranted.”
Rogers said Apple was not a monopoly and there was nothing illegal about the success of the App Store. She decided that Apple should allow developers to redirect users to developer websites to manage their subscriptions. Other countries have taken on the Apple tax, and South Korean developers may promote alternative payment methods in the App Store, though Apple will still hit developers for 26% of the deal value.
All together, pressure from lawsuits, developers, lawmakers and the media has combined to produce the first cracks in Apple’s integrated payment platform, which includes the Apple Tax. Apple still has a set of rules that developers of reading apps must follow. The link posted on the app cannot contain pricing information, and each developer must submit a “right” to obtain permission from Apple to include a link on their app.