Publishers Demand Lower Fees in Apple’s App Store

Posted on August 20, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, iOS with 37 Comments

A $350 Billion "Contribution" to the U.S. economy? No

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are among the publishers demanding that Apple lower its App Store fees. The group has penned an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook airing their grievances, and they’ve sent a copy to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

“[We would like] to better understand the ‘conditions’ you mentioned in your July 29th remarks before the House Judiciary Committee,” the letter notes. “We would like to know what conditions our members—high quality digital content companies—would need to meet in order to qualify for the arrangement Amazon is receiving for its Amazon Prime Video app in the Apple App Store.”

The letter is signed by Jason Kint, the CEO of a trade group called Digital Content Next that represents The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other media brands that it says “together have an unduplicated audience of 223,098 million unique visitors or 100 percent reach of the U.S. online population.” The Amazon reference was an email uncovered during the House Judiciary Committee investigation, in which Apple agreed to lower its normal 30 percent vig to just 15 percent for Amazon.

In his testimony before the committee, Mr. Cook said that this special arrangement was available to “any app developers … that meet the conditions.” But Cook never detailed those conditions, and none of the email evidence collected by the committee provides any clue either.

“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,” the letter continues. “In keeping with your statement to the Committee, I ask that you clearly define the conditions that Amazon satisfied for its arrangement so that DCN’s member companies meeting those conditions can be offered the same agreement.”

Not coincidentally, the notion of a “special arrangement” came up in Apple’s mob-like dealing with Epic Games, which chose instead to sue Apple when it banned its game Fortnite from the iOS App Store. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney says he’s not looking for a special deal, but rather fair terms for all developers.

You can read more about the DCN’s complaint here.

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