NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO – A group of news publishers sent a letter to Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seeking similar deal terms in its App Store that Amazon.com Inc. gets for its video-streaming service.
Apple takes 30 percent of the revenue from most subscriptions in its App Store, then 15 percent after the first year. But in late July, a congressional antitrust panel disclosed internal emails showing a more-favorable deal struck between Apple services chief Eddy Cue and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. They agreed to a 15 percent revenue share for Amazon Prime Video customers who signed up through the iPhone app and no revenue share for users who already subscribed via Amazon or elsewhere, the emails showed.
"We would like to know what conditions our members — high quality digital content companies — would need to meet in order to qualify for the arrangement Amazon is receiving for its Amazon Prime Video app in the Apple App Store,” Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, wrote in the letter to Cook.
"I ask that you clearly define the conditions that Amazon satisfied for its arrangement so that DCN's member companies meeting those conditions can be offered the same agreement."
Digital Content Next represents several news outlets that rely on subscriptions for much of their revenue, including The New York Times, News Corp., which owns the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. The group also represents Bloomberg LP, owner of Bloomberg News.
The latest missive comes days after Apple removed Epic Games' "Fortnite" from its app store for violating in-app payment guidelines, prompting Epic to file federal lawsuits challenging the rule.
Apple and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this year, Apple said a select group of streaming-video services could use their own payment method, rather than Apple’s billing service, therefore avoiding giving Apple a cut of their sales.
More developers have begun to complain about Apple’s App Store fees and rules, saying they are unfair and favor Apple’s own services.
As part of an antitrust inquiry into the company, Justice Department lawyers are scrutinizing the Apple rules that require many app makers to use the company’s payment system.
"We treat every developer the same,” Cook said during the July congressional antitrust hearing that revealed the special deal with Amazon.