In an unusual move, Apple has agreed to not collect the App Store’s 30% “tax” on purchases made through Facebook’s app for live paid events — but only through the end of 2020. Moreover, Apple will still take a 30% cut of paid livestreams from video-game creators using the paid-livestream feature.
The ongoing clash of tech titans is the latest in the public fight some app developers are waging against Apple over its App Store business practices, which they say are unfair.
Facebook complained that Apple agreed only to a short moratorium on collecting in-app fees for paid live events, which it launched last month. For its part, Facebook says it won’t take a cut of creators or businesses’ revenue for livestreaming events until at least August 2021, citing economic hardships inflicted by the COVD pandemic.
“Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax,” Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said.
Asked for comment, an Apple spokesman said, “The App Store provides a great business opportunity for all developers, who use it to reach half a billion visitors each week across 175 countries. To ensure every developer can create and grow a successful business, Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone.”
According to Apple, it has given Facebook as well as ClassPass and Airbnb until the end of 2020 to implement in-app purchase for in-person businesses using their paid online events feature.
Meanwhile, the social giant was forced to make a concession to exclude gaming streamers to obtain the “temporary reprieve for other businesses” from Apple, according to Facebook Gaming VP Vivek Sharma.
“Apple’s decision to not collect its 30% tax on paid online events comes with a catch: gaming creators are excluded from using Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS,” Sharma said. As with Facebook’s main app, the company will not charge fees for Facebook Gaming creators who hold paid online events through at least August 2021.
Apple says it has not exempted Facebook gaming creators from the 30% fee because they do not represent a physical business or service affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook has another, separate grievance about Apple: The company says it was forced to strip out games from the Facebook Gaming app, also launched last month, because of Apple’s prohibition on apps that distribute code “in a store or store-like interface.”
The latest Facebook complaints come amid a broader backlash against the Cupertino colossus’ App Store.
This week saw the launch of the Coalition for App Fairness (appfairness.org), formed by several companies that have had longstanding beefs with Apple including Spotify, Epic Games, Match Group, Deezer and Tile. It’s a particularly hot-button issue for Epic, creator of the popular “Fortnite” game, which is currently engaged in litigation with Apple over the mandated 30% fee and Apple’s refusal to allow Epic to offer its own payment mechanism. For now, “Fortnite” has been banned by Apple from the App Store because of Epic’s attempt to avoid paying the 30% revenue cut.
“We believe that every app developer is entitled to fair treatment and that every consumer should have complete control over their own device,” the group says on its site.
Of the Coalition for App Fairness’ 10 “app store principles,” the first is a declaration that “No developer should be required to use an app store exclusively, or to use ancillary services of the app store owner, including payment systems, or to accept other supplementary obligations in order to have access to the app store.”
For Facebook’s live-events offering, businesses and creators (excluding gamers) will be able to accept payments through Facebook Pay on iOS through the end of 2020 and will keep 100% of the revenue (minus applicable taxes). Facebook Pay also is available on Android and the web. Initially, Facebook live paid events are available in the U.S. and 19 other countries; users eligible to participate in live events monetization will receive payouts once per month after they earn a minimum balance of $100.
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