What just happened? On Thursday, Apple made its second antitrust concession in as many days. It is finally giving in to Dutch regulators and allowing dating apps in the country the freedom to use external payment systems if they choose.
So far, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined Apple €5 million ($5.7 million) per week for the last 10 weeks for not compiling with its mandate. The ACM is only authorized to fine Apple up to €50 million ($55.4 million), so the penalties had to stop this week regardless of the situation.
Apple had already agreed to let Dutch developers use alternative payment methods in February. However, the ACM was unsatisfied with Cupertino's proposal because it was too restrictive as it required developers to create entirely new app binaries. Developers still have to apply for one of Apple's two entitlements it has offered since February, but it changed other requirements a bit to satisfy the ACM.
While they are no longer required to create a separate binary, the payment platform developers choose must be Apple-approved. Additionally, developers must include a modal sheet (above) informing users that they are making purchases through an external payment system. The notice must warn them of the risks and the lost benefits of using Apple's platform. These requirements are virtually the same as those announced yesterday for reader apps.
The concessions have not changed Apple's stance on the matter.
"As we have previously said, we disagree with the ACM's original order and are appealing it," Apple said. "In the meantime, the changes we've made today demonstrate Apple's ongoing commitment to fulfill its legal obligations in the Netherlands."
In its initial rejected settlement with the ACM, Apple said it still intends to collect a 27-percent fee for transactions on external platforms — a three-point reduction in its standard commission. It will go ahead with the so-called "Apple Tax" with Dutch dating apps by requiring developers to report sales and hand over the cut.
Cupertino is not imposing its commission on reader apps, which include Netflix, Kindle, and Spotify, to name a few. The discrepancy is likely to come under fire. Tim Sweeney has already publicly called out Apple for giving such apps preferential treatment. Certainly, we have not heard the last of it.
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