Still giving Apple 30% of your news subscription revenue? You don’t have to anymore, here’s how to stop

It’s been more than a decade since Apple first allowed news publishers (and others) to sell a subscription within their iPhone or iPad apps. And one complaint prevailed throughout this time: it required users to sign up Through Apple, not you directly. This costs the publisher money: Full 30% of your subscriber payments, month after month, and year after year. The publisher has commissioned Link: Limiting the ability to target offers, collect user data, and fine-tune the communication between the reader and the port.

Apple listened to these complaints and took steps on the edges to make its offering more attractive — mostly by cutting the revenue cuts it required under certain circumstances. (Most of the credit here belongs to video game company Epic, which is fighting a much higher-dollar battle against Apple’s App Store policies, and international regulators in countries like Japan and the Netherlands.)

But the significant step came last fall, when Apple announced that it had allowed a certain class of iOS apps, including news apps, to bypass in-app payment altogether. Apple will allow so-called reader apps — “applications that provide one or more of the following types of digital content — magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, or video — as an app’s primary functionality” — to use an exciting new technology feature called a Linkwhich allows apps to direct users to the publisher’s site to subscribe.

Sending a potential subscriber to your website is a loss in terms of ease of use – Apple one-click subscriptions are very nice – but an unconditional financial gain. You now keep what used to be Apple’s share of your subscribers’ money You are own the relationship.

The new policy was announced last September, but did not take effect until March 30, and its uptake has been relatively slow. But now, three months later, we have our first big example of a “reader app” that pays in a non-Apple way to subscribe: Netflix. Here is Filipe Espósito for 9to5Mac:

As noted by many users and also confirmed by 9to5Mac, the Netflix app now uses the new iOS API for reader apps that takes the user to an external website before subscribing. It’s uncertain when exactly Netflix started rolling out this option for iPhone and iPad users, but based on reports, the rollout now appears to be happening worldwide.

When you click on the subscribe button, a message appears saying that you are about to leave the application and go to an external website. The app also indicates that the transaction is no longer Apple’s responsibility and that subscriptions must be managed through the Netflix platform.

Netflix discontinued Apple’s in-app purchase method in 2018, uninterested in sharing profits with the phone maker. Signing up for Netflix on your Apple device means going to in a web browser. Now, though, the launcher can at least push the people out there within the app.

What does all this mean for news publishers who use iPhone and iPad apps?

  • Stop offering in-app subscriptions through Apple. The only reason left to give Apple 30% (or 15%) of your subscription revenue is because the in-app subscriptions system is very easy to use. This is no longer a good enough reason.
  • Apply for approval to link to your subscription interface. Yes, the ability to link to your website is still incorrect – it’s a file honor. You have to apply for Orwell’s obscure “external link account entitlement” first. There are some requirements that should not be a problem for most news publishers. Important: The publisher may not offer in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS while using the external link account entitlement. In other words, you can use Apple’s system or your own – but not both at the same time.
  • Make your mobile subscription system as easy to use as possible. This should really be a priority, no matter what Apple does! If someone using a smartphone wants to give you money, you have to make it as easy as possible! One suggestion: start by accepting Apple Pay on your website. Selling digital goods (such as a subscription) within the iOS app via Apple Pay has always been against Apple’s rules. But on the web, you are free and clear. For the iPhone user, Apple Pay is almost as easy as signing up within the app, and from a seller’s perspective, it’s almost indistinguishable from credit card payment.
  • Keep testing a wide range of subscription offers to see what works. Apple’s strict in-app rules made it difficult to test different scores for users. (The first three months for 99 cents! $50 a year for the rest of your life!) Already savvy publishers do frequent testing of this kind to improve their offerings; Now these can be done for app users as well.

News apps on phones and tablets weren’t the revolution some predicted a decade ago. Most people who download The Daily Gazette on their iPhone already know the newspaper and its workings. It is possible that they are either already subscribers or high quality candidates to subscribe. So publishers are more likely to look at their mobile apps as a tool for gratification Existing of attracting subscribers the new Of which. This is not likely to change any time soon.

But nonetheless, none of the subscription dollars you currently get from Apple at 30% you don’t need anymore. And instead of building a resource-intensive alternative, you can just use whatever system you have. Go save that money, and see it as an opportunity to make sure your readers’ payment path is as smooth as possible – on any device.

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