Dutch app store dispute: Apple proposes 27 percent commission

Apple has announced that it will charge dating app developers a 27% commission on any in-app purchases made in the Netherlands using alternative payment systems. The change is in response to a demand from the Dutch competition regulator, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), that Apple allow only dating app developers to use alternatives to Apple's in-app payment system in the country. Twenty-seven percent is a 3%  point reduction from the 30% commission Apple typically charges developers who use its own payment system.

According to Apple's documentation, Dutch dating app developers can now apply to use alternative payment systems. They can offer a third-party payment system within the app's interface or link to an external website to complete a purchase. To enable alternative payments, Apple has stated that dating app developers will be required to submit a separate app binary in the Netherlands.

The Dutch regulator fined Apple $5.7 million last week for failing to comply with its order, a fine that would be repeated weekly until Apple complied. The regulator imposed the fine on Apple for two reasons: first, it had not yet implemented alternative payment systems, and second, Apple had put "barriers" in place to discourage developers from moving away from its first-party payment system, such as forcing them to choose between using an alternative payment system outside of the app or an alternative payment system within the app.

One prominent iOS developer, Steve Troughton-Smith, reacted angrily to Apple's 27% commission rate, calling it "absolutely vile" and saying that "everybody on their executive team should be ashamed."

Apple's proposed solution, which includes requiring separate binaries, requiring developers to report external sales back to Apple, and a meagre 3% savings, may be too much effort for too little benefit for developers to bother using anything other than Apple's own payment system. Apple maintains that accepting alternative payments "will compromise the user experience and create new threats to user privacy and data security." It claims to be appealing the ACM decision, but it intends to follow the order in the meantime.

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