Netflix is no longer allowing new customers on iOS to pay for the streaming service directly through an in-app subscription. It’s the latest example of a company with a high-profile, essential mobile app ditching Apple’s payment system to retain more profits for itself and stop handing the iPhone and iPad maker a cut of every subscription activated within the Netflix app. VentureBeat first reported the change, which Netflix confirmed with a short “we no longer support iTunes as a method of payment for new members” statement.
Now, customers will have to begin a subscription through a web browser such as Safari. People who already have an in-app Netflix subscription will be able to continue paying that way — for now — but returning customers who have missed a billing period will be unable to reactivate in-app subscriptions; they’ll have to subscribe from the web. An in-app subscription is far more convenient from a user’s perspective, as it uses the Apple billing info you’ve already got set up on your iOS device. But developers have long griped over the sizable percentage that Apple and Google keep for themselves for offering the simplicity of in-app billing.
Apple takes a 30 percent cut of recurring in-app subscriptions on iOS, though the number drops to 15 — leaving an app’s developer with 85 percent of revenue — after customers maintain their subscription for a year. The latter policy was implemented in 2016 after numerous companies complained that Apple was taking too much. Spotify, the leading subscription music app, has also bypassed Apple’s in-app billing for similar reasons.
Google has faced similar criticisms on the Android end of things; Netflix had already stopped offering in-app subscriptions through Google Play before today’s iOS news — and Fortnite developer Epic Games famously keeps its smash hit outside Google’s store to maximize profits on in-game items.