Friday, December 28, 2018

Netflix No Longer Offering In-App Subscriptions

Juli Clover:

When opening up the Netflix app on an iOS device, there are no longer fields for signing up for a Netflix account within the app nor are there instructions on how to obtain a subscription, likely to avoid violating Apple’s App Store rules. The app simply offers a sign-in window and says that members who subscribe to Netflix can watch within the app.

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines prohibit developers from asking iOS users to use a purchase method other than in-app purchase, which Netflix is skirting by offering no sign up options at all.

iPad and iPhone users who want to sign up for Netflix will now need to do so through the Netflix website rather than through the Netflix app.

Maybe Apple shouldn’t incentivize developers to provide a worse user experience. Now, customers lose, and Apple gets 15-30% of nothing instead of a smaller percentage of something.

Michael Love:

This is pretty damning; suggests that even an in-app option ended up costing them more in commissions than it made them from extra sales. (and a strong argument for why 30% is in fact rent-seeking and not Apple getting what they deserve for reducing purchase friction) Michael Love added,

Previously: Apple and Google Face Growing Revolt Over App Store “Tax”.

Update (2019-01-01): Ben Bajarin:

No doubt more companies will follow this once they get big enough that customers won’t mind jumping through hoops to get what they want.


It was possible to pay for Spotify Premium using Apple’s in-app payment system (iAP). However, this has been discontinued for new subscribers.

Update (2019-01-04): Shona Ghosh:

Netflix has canned the ability for iPad and iPhone users to pay for the streaming service through iTunes, depriving Apple of an estimated $256 million in annual revenue.

John Gruber (tweet):

This is a big deal. Netflix is the top-grossing app in the App Store in the U.S. […] And keep in mind that Netflix has long had a special relationship with Apple, with an 85/15 cut from the start, not just after a year.


What gets me, though, are the rules that prevent apps that eschew in-app purchases from telling users in plain language how to actually pay. Not only is Netflix not allowed to link to their website, they can’t even tell the user they need to go to to sign up.


Apple should be earning its share of in-app subscription revenue by competing on convenience, not confusion and obfuscation.

Update (2019-01-16): The Talk Show:

Special guest Ben Thompson returns to the show. Topics include Apple’s horrible no good very bad earnings warning, the Chinese market, Apple’s push toward services for revenue growth, antitrust issues regarding the App Store, and more.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Honestly I'm surprised it ever was an option.

This is entirely Apple's fault, and they make the experience worse for their customers.

They could fix this easily. If they insist on some compensation for hosting the app infrastructure, then require the app be paid. $1 or $3 or $5 for the app and problem solved. Better for the customer and better for Apple and Netflix.

Seems fine to me. I hope all big apps eliminate in app signups.

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