Apple extends the deadline for required group event in-app purchases

Apple on Monday announced an extension to its deadline for requiring in-app purchases for online events and classes offered within iOS apps to June 30th, 2021. Apple previously adjusted what types of events are subject to its in-app purchase policy and standard 30 percent cut back in September, with the original intention of requiring in-app purchases in all appropriate apps by December of this year.

Apple cited the coronavirus pandemic, writing in a developer update posted to its website, “As the world fights COVID-19, we recognize that adapting experiences from in-person to digital continues to be a top priority.”

Requiring in-app purchase options for outside services like video streaming and exercise classes offered through iOS has been part of the company’s policy for quite a while, but this specific change is focused on the adjustments made following Facebook’s September complaint. Facebook’s issue was framed around event organizers losing out on much-needed money for their digital events offered through the Facebook app during COVID-19, because of Apple’s 30 percent in-app purchase commission. Apple decided to waive the fee till the end of the year, and the company adjusted its policy to focus on group events and classes to keep one-on-one experiences free from Apple fees.

This deadline extension means developers have more time to incorporate in-app purchases in their apps where applicable and to temporarily reap the full profits of their sales. Apple’s other recent App Store changes suggest it’s inclined to make some concessions, whether because of pressure from developers or regulatory scrutiny from its on-going legal battle with Epic and an anti-trust investigation in Europe.

The best example is Apple’s recently announced App Store Small Business Program. Any developer making under $1 million in sales per year will be able to apply next year and if approved receive a reduced 15 percent App Store commission. Other companies like Amazon have negotiated such exemptions, albeit in back room deals rather than public battles. Amazon Prime Video is able to offer subscriptions with a reduced 15 percent Apple commission and sell in-app purchases and rentals without being forced to use Apple’s in-app purchase option.