Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Netflix Adds External Subscription Button

Filipe Espósito:

Earlier this year, Apple began allowing “reader” apps to provide external links for customers so they can log in and pay for a subscription from outside the App Store. Now Netflix is rolling out an option in its iOS app that takes users to its website in order to finish a new Netflix subscription.


When you tap the subscribe button, a message says that “you’re about to leave the app and go to an external website.” The app also notes that the transaction will no longer be Apple’s responsibility and that all subscription management should be done under Netflix’s platform.

Netflix was already not using In-App Purchase, but this change lets them explain to customers without accounts how they can create one. Before, instead of clicking a button to open the site, they had to make a phone call.

Eric Seufert:

Once again we see the use of heavy-handed, intimidating language in intransigent, disruptive modals designed to suppress consumer use of off-platform services. This is clearly a significant hurdle to open payments and commerce. And the privacy point is absurd.

Michael Love:

I’m now delightedly realizing that when my new website launches with its accompanying “buy directly from Pleco and save 20%” ad campaign I can totally reciprocate here and spread FUD about buying through Apple.

It’s accurate FUD, too - Apple actually does reject refund requests sometimes (and we can’t overrule them when they do), they do lose purchases sometimes (and we can’t always retrieve them when we do); I can with absolute sincerity say the safest place to buy Pleco is from us.

Heck, I’ll put up a dang comparison chart showing the price difference + availability of refunds + where money goes + support response times + fact that actual humans are reading your email and not responding from a script; “why waste money + put up with Apple’s crappy support?”

But only “reader” apps can do this.


Update (2022-08-08): John Gruber:

We can (and should) quibble with some of the design details and language of this warning dialog — why is the headline font so big? why is Netflix’s own name in quotes? — but on the whole this is the way things should be. Developers should be able to steer users to the web for payments and subscriptions, and users should know they’re being steered to the web, and that anything they pay for outside the app won’t work like in-app payments do.

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This space will become rather messy in the coming years, with different rules in different areas of the world.

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