After Epic Games and Fortnite, it is Facebook’s turn to be called to order by Apple. The Cupertino company has blocked an update to the iOS version of the social network’s application for breach of App Store rules. In this version, Facebook openly announced the share of the firm’s commission on in-app purchases.
Imagine a little. You have a good idea: an innovative product or a useful service. A yoga class? School support? An Asian cooking class? You would not be alone in this situation: with the coronavirus epidemic, the number of remote services has multiplied. You decide to take advantage of this opportunity and sell this service on social networks, like Facebook, Instagram. And you start to make reservations.
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You have set a price that allows you to pay your costs and remunerate yourself, but the margin remains small so that the amount remains attractive. But you find that the amount you receive is not always the same. Because, social networks like Facebook or Instagram are accessible on a computer, on a tablet or on a smartphone. And who says tablet and smartphone, also says iOS and Android. Then Google and Apple.
A blatant refusal of transparency
On the App Store and the Play Store, in-app purchases must go through the in-store payment system. Apple and Google thus assure the customer and the professional that the payment is not a fraud. In return (and for other reasons as well), the two firms take a commission on all payments made. Even on services sold through Facebook. It amounts to 30% of the paid value.
Out of a desire for transparency, Facebook made the decision to transparently display the amount of Apple and Google commissions in a new version of its application. In a beta version of Facebook, a line of text, placed under the buy button, spelled out: ” Apple takes 30% on this purchase “. According to Facebook, the idea is to explain to a provider who sells sports lessons on Facebook why he does not receive 100% of the money paid.
Unacceptable according to the Cupertino company which rejected this update, information reported by the Reuters news agency. The rules of the App Store are clear about the details of its commission: developers should not disclose information ” irrelevant “. The commission is one of them, although it is an open secret. In the version currently online, you can read instead ” Facebook does not take any commission on this purchase , Implying that others are doing it.
Hands off the sacrosanct commission
Facebook had previously asked Apple to lift the commission on in-app purchases made from its products and services marketplace so that the small structures that have multiplied there since the start of the epidemic can receive 100% of the money paid by consumers when the product is paid for from the iOS app. Apple refused. We do not touch the sacrosanct commission, even though it is the subject of several investigations, including in the United States.
Facebook is not discouraged, however, and says it wants, in one way or another, display information within the application. It would be possible to display a banner in the interface without needing an update for it, for example. The Reuters article also confirms that Facebook wants to expand this transparency strategy to the Android version of its application. Then again there is a topic about commission on in-app purchases, even Google doesn’t seem as sensitive on the subject as Apple.
One of the most common sticking points between Apple, Google and developers is commissions on in-app purchases made through apps. In recent weeks, the subject has made the headlines of specialized sites, like PhonAndroid, when Epic Games decided to sue Apple and Google for anti-competitive practice after its flagship game, Fortnite, was banned from the App Store and Play Store. Epic had integrated its own payment system into its game, bypassing the rules of the two firms. Which obviously was not taken well.