by Jason Snell
Did Apple and Amazon just settle their in-app purchase dispute?
A major change rolled out inside Amazon’s Prime Video app for iOS today. As Nick Statt reports for the Verge:
Amazon’s Prime Video iOS and Apple TV apps now let customers make in-app purchases, including renting and buying films and TV shows… Prior to the change, Amazon would not allow you to rent or buy content on the Prime Video app, instead, directing users to a web browser.
I think Statt is conflating two different Apple policies, however. Up to now, the rule has been that if you sell digital goods within an app, you need to sell it using Apple’s own purchasing engine. And yes, the standard rate for in-app purchases using that system is 30 percent.
But this doesn’t seem to be that. This is using Amazon’s own purchasing engine, the same one you’d run into if you switched out to Safari and rented or bought a movie there. I entered my Amazon security PIN and was allowed to rent “Jojo Rabbit” directly from Amazon using my linked payment method there, and received an Amazon receipt in email. Apple wasn’t involved in any way.
I doubt that Amazon just went rogue, so clearly something has happened. Perhaps Amazon has agreed to cut Apple in for a percentage of total sales originating from the app. Or perhaps Apple dropped the whole thing. I don’t know. I look forward to the behind-the-scenes dirt emerging sometime.
I checked out Amazon’s other digital-media apps, Kindle and Comixology, as well as the Amazon.com app, to see if I could buy digital goods directly from any of them. As of this writing, I couldn’t—but I wouldn’t be surprised if those apps are also about to get a sudden update that allows their users to buy digital goods directly rather than having to exit to a web browser to do so.
Update: Benjamin Mayo of 9to5Mac reports that if you don’t have a linked Amazon account, the transaction uses Apple’s in-app purchase system. There’s now an Apple statement that doesn’t really answer anything.